Snow Patrol – Eyes Open

Snow Patrol
Eyes Open

If this is the first you’re hearing of Snow Patrol, it certainly won’t be the last. While previous releases have sold millions in the UK, this Scottish five-piece has yet to experience similar success in the states. But that’s all about to change. Eyes Open, the band’s fourth LP, is armed with big and airy guitars, slick rhythmic beats, and jagged pop hooks. Coupled with appealing, indie-rock textures with commercial cross-over potential and capped off with a polished and emotional singer, it has all the ingredients to be a huge success. Snow Patrol appears poised to open America’s eyes to its dynamic and energetic rock

Frontman Gary Lightbody steals the show with his tailor-made, rock-star voice that can be both passionately rousing and intimately reflective. He effectively moves between dreamy ballads and riveting rockers with ease, similar to Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Lightbody’s heartfelt lyrics are sung with a resounding warmth and zeal that should resonate with listeners both young and old. His catchy refrains are bolstered by equally effusive backing vocal harmonies, courtesy of band members Nathan Connolly (guitars) and Paul Wilson (bass) as well as guests Martha Wainwright and the choir of Celtic indie elite (which includes Eugene Kelly, Charlie Clarke, Jenny Reeve, and Iain Archer).

Those that are familiar with and appreciate previous Snow Patrol tunes will be immediately grabbed by the opening track “You’re All I Have,” as its driving rhythms, smoldering guitars, and sing-along chorus most resemble the gritty indie rock of past releases. The MTV-ready, US single “Hands Open” follows with even more gigantic guitar chords but this time with a choppier back beat and instantly accessible chorus. The pace slows for “Chasing Cars,” baiting us as the atmospheric tinklings float higher, while the guitars provide tension, slowly building into a swirl while never quite reaching a peak. But it’s the lyrics that are at the forefront here, as Lightbody explains “Chasing Cars” is “the most pure and open love song I’ve ever written.” The ironically titled “Shut Your Eyes” charms with an underbelly of U2-like, cascading atmospherics and an extremely snazzy catch phrase. The remaining seven tracks are a mix of slower, expressive ballads and musing indie rock with bits of refined high-energy boosts brought to life by Jonny Quinn on drums, the keyboard and sample work of Tom Simpson, and, of course, the fine singing of Lightbody.

If there is one tiny flaw on this disc, it’s the way some of the songs, after teasing us with intensifying waves of sound, tend to drift to an ending prior to attaining their destination. It’s like going on a sunny Sunday drive and only driving on the highway. And while Snow Patrol has smoothed over some of the rough edges of the band’s earlier work, these guys have created some enjoyable and memorable indie rock. Whether Eyes Open has enough substance to have staying power remains to be seen, but at least it will make for an enjoyable summer listen that will bring back fond memories when played again two years from now.