Snow Patrol: Eyes Open

Belfast children keep the Ford Focus drivers happy

Now, before we get all uppity about this not being rebel music (because it absolutely isn’t), you have to remember what Snow Patrol went through to get here. Having won over the nation’s girlfriends and Focus owners with ‘Final Straw’ and its children, their follow-up is the sound of Snow Patrol securing themselves in the mainstream with, erm, ice picks and crampons.

Gone completely is any passing trace of the grubby, US college rock that made them so beloved underground when the real world wasn’t taking notice. In its place, is an awful lot of big, blustery ballads. Also out is singer Gary Lightbody’s paranoid persona. The image of the title – ever-so-slightly laboured throughout – reveals a mam-friendly message of redemption and self-discovery.

All of this isn’t necessarily a problem, Lightbody’s cracked, Celtic croak sure beats foghorn McNamara of Embrace and it’s more more flawed, ergo more human, than Coldplay’s Chris Martin. It’s more than a match for Martha Wainwright on spooky, paper-thin duet ‘Set The Fire To The Third Bar’. However they tackle the familiar musical ground of ‘Final Straw’ with verve but little variety over and above flirting with gospel on ‘Shut Your Eyes’ and even goth on ‘The Finish Line’. It’s an album that’ll see them secure their flag firmly in the summit of Mount Have-Falsetto-Will-Flog-Records. It is quite simply a fine album. But therein lies the problem. It’s. Just. Fine.

Eddie Smack