Sound — 6
The limelight has been increasing its shine upon Irish vocalist/guitarist Gary Lightbody and Snow Patrol for the past few years. From a supporting bill on part of U2's UK leg of the 2005 Vertigo Tour to a cushy promotion on My Space's main page, Snow Patrol is perhaps the very definition of the term buzz band. With its new release Eyes Open, the band's fourth full-length offering and second on a major label, Snow Patrol still has plenty of work to do with its musical presentation. With guitarist Nathan Connolly, bassist Paul Wilson, keyboardist Tom Simpson, and drummer Jonny Quinn backing Lightbody, each song is definitely a polished offering. But although the band's collection has catchy, respectable offerings, only about half of the songs truly offer stand out as unique musical compositions. In the first track, You're All I Have, listeners are treated with a pleasant, melodic voice of Lightbody, who sounds quite similar to the Gin Blossom's own Robin Wilson. Both singers have pleasing deliveries that make them one of the strongest points of both bands. Guitarist Connolly is not given much chance to really stand out, as general chords rather than flavorful riffs take control on most of the faster tunes. The track Hands Open, almost certainly to be released as a single, is based upon a series of repeating, chord progressions that don't carry the tune in any sort of new direction. This bare-bones approach only seems to appear in the up-tempo songs, but it is unlikely to bother radio listeners who are looking to sing along with a catchy chorus. If the band would have layered the song with a riff or two, Hands Open would have been ultimately more satisfying. Although Connolly, Wilson, Simpson and Quinn can obviously play their respective instruments well, each song does not provide much of an opportunity to showcase their skills. Each song with It's Beginning To Get To Me and Hands Open, a monotonous rhythm runs through the songs, with Lightbody's vocals phrasing each line in a monotonous fashion. It tends to be the lower-tempo songs that allow the band to show the innovative side to them. Listeners are treated to instrumental nuances of the bass and guitar underneath the slow, hypnotic groove of Shut Your Eyes. Connolly and Wilson's work on this tune, although subtle and quiet, often times completely overshadows the vocals -- an unexpected and satisfying change. Likewise, the moody and beautiful piano base of Make This Go On Forever shows why intimacy is Snow Patrol's ace in the hole. It is most likely these enticing songs that have captured the attention of a band like U2.
Lyrics — 9
What truly makes Snow Patrol stand out from the crowd are its introspective lyrics. While many bands' songs always seem to use a series of cliche rhymes from a rock database, Lightbody finds a way of making each line a memorable one. Most of his lyrics are introspective, which may not appeal to a death metal crowd, but there is definitely a target audience that will savor each line. The laughter penetrates my silence; As drunken men find flaws in science, Lightbody writes in Set The Fire To The Third Bar, a duet with Martha Wainwright. This song's wry perspective is an unexpected approach to a love song it works beautifully. These intimate lyrics work best in, what else, Snow Patrol's love songs. With a song like Make This Go On Forever, the lyrics are given precedence and are given the attention they deserve.
Overall Impression — 7
There is a significant gap between the up-tempo and low-tempos songs on Snow Patrol's Open Eyes. For listeners in search of a little bit more lyrical meat in their music, Snow Patrol may be the band for them. Each song seems to give the words precedence, and Lightbody's lyrics do deserve a listen, or at very least a read. The approach taken with Snow Patrol's ballads is an enjoyable one, often utilizing a wide variety of instrumentation and resulting in a highly unique experience. When you hear the intro of You Could Be Happy, featuring a music-box type melodic line, the band absolutely has the ability to take you to another time and place. If the band can take a bit of this method and inject it into every song they undertake, whether fast or slow, the boys who are on fire in the UK might just might conquer the world.