ARTS

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November 7, 2008

Shortcuts—Snow Patrol's A Hundred Million Suns

Snow Patrol struggled through about a decade of relative obscurity before its 2006 single “Chasing Cars” became mainstream pop radio gold. Since then, not a department store, chain restaurant, or school prom has been immune to its infectious chorus. The band’s newfound commercial success skyrocketed the sales of their album Eyes Open, and the Glasgow-based band sold millions of records around the world.

Snow Patrol’s fifth and latest album, A Hundred Million Suns, which was released last Tuesday, was highly anticipated by indie fans and 15-year-old McDreamy worshippers alike. The band’s global success and wide appeal is mirrored in the planetary theme that runs consistently throughout most of the tracks, from the lyrical imagery of “The Golden Floor” (“A dark shape on a golden floor/ a sleeping planet with a molten core”) and “Engines” (“Use me forever use as rocket fuel I’ll be air I’ll be fire”) to the imaginative origami of the sun-sprinkled album cover.

On the band’s official site, lead vocalist and guitarist Gary Lightbody calls their new album “lyrically and sonically the best record we’ve ever made.” Upon investigation, the lyrical part of his assertion may be pushing it a bit; the album brims with such honeyed hyperbolic phrases as “I will race you to the waterside/ and from the edge of Ireland shout out loud/ so they could hear it in America/ it’s all for you,” and what appear to be excerpts from the journal of an adolescent boy (“I’m a peasant in your princess arms/ penniless with only charm”).

But the album is redeemed with the rich and raucous single “Take Back the City” and the almost Coldplay-like instrumentation of “If There’s a Rocket Tie Me To It,” which may be the band’s best song to date. “Rocket” has a rambunctious and sensuous chorus (“the fire the fire it cracks and barks like primal music”) that counterbalances the echoed chanting of “The Golden Floor” and the ethereal beginning of the album’s whopping 16-minute finale “The Lightning Strike.”

Though the majority of the songs on this album could safely blend into the sound of their recent albums Final Straw or Eyes Open, there are some traces of their earlier work in such songs as “Disaster Button” and “Please Take These Photos from My Hands.” These tracks have a slightly rougher indie vibe, so there is a little something for each degree of Snow Patrol aficionado.

Basically, there aren’t many surprises on this album, so if you are a Snow Patrol fan, you will probably be pretty satisfied with A Hundred Millions Suns. But if you aren’t a Snow Patrol fan, this effort probably won’t be enough to convince you to become one.