A Hundred Million Suns
Label: Geffen Records
“Aren’t they the guys with that one song? Yeah, I like that song. But, no, I don’t really know ’em.”
That’s the answer I got when my friends were asked about Scottish import Snow Patrol. It seems a tiny bit preposterous that this could be the answer, being that since the release of their 2005 album, Eyes Open and “Chasing Cars”, one of the most popular songs of the 21st century; Snow Patrol has been acquainted with nothing but success.
Songwriter and frontman Gary Lightbody talks about this record as being a departure from the rest of his catalog–which generally contains either breakup songs or heartbreaking anthems. He is definitely correct on this standpoint, with songs like “Engines” and the LP’s opener, “If There’s A Rocket, Tie Me to It.” The latter contains amazing lyrics (“I said I knew the beat/ ‘Cause it matched your own heat / It’s become my engine / My own source of heat.”) that create a sense of longing that the listener’s heart has no choice but to melt. Apparently, when it comes to heart-melting, Lightbody’s been taking classes. In a track-by-track interview I received with the ever-so-delightful invention known as a press kit, Lightbody speaks of the visual-laden “Crack the Shutters” as the “purest love song” he has ever written, and the proof is in the pudding. The song starts off with the serene visual of a woman (in my case, but there are no gender-specific pronouns in the song) resting her hand on a broken radiator and caressing the balladeer with her cold hands. From lying in bed with your lover to opening the shutters to let in a bright, engulfing light (in what I might add is probably the strongest, most beautiful chorus I’ve heard all year), he takes the listener on a bedroom journey that makes you want to lay with your certain someone all day.
After the song, “Take Back the City”–a song recorded in Germany and slightly reminiscent of the fall of a certain wall around those parts, the album doesn’t really go balls-out-rock again until the urgent tune, “Disaster Button”. Its position on the record pulls the listener in by the collar with a story about a person with no hold on his life and the women he’s surrounded by. The clicking guitars and heavy chorus don’t really fit the message of the song, but it’s a speck of a misstep considering the album shines in so many other places.
And how does Snow Patrol close out such a fervent piece of work, you may ask? With a 16-minute, three-part epic called “The Lightning Strike”, that’s how. The first part, “What If This Storm Ends?” is a simple poem that gradually swells into a parade, complete with a brass section and chorus that grows grander in scale as the song progresses. That all comes to a halt as the piano-driven second act, “The Sunlight Through the Flags” kind of slinks by. It’s so quiet, it could sneak by me right now and steal my television with time enough to leave me a witty note. That’s where the final part “Daybreak” comes in. It’s an interesting choice to end the album with a piece with such an optimistic title, especially with SP’s previous work. Lightbody sings of holding on to someone like a “life raft”, hoping for a better tomorrow; I’m sure with this release, Snow Patrol will be seeing one as well.
by Cameron Mason