A real eye-opener

It’s been a crooked road to stardom for Snow Patrol, which emerged onto the scene in 2004 with the album Final Straw. Coming a long way since the DIY albums of the its early days, the Scottish foursome went from being dropped from the indie label that released the band’s first two albums to being scooped up by major label Polydor. With its latest release Eyes Open, the band continues to gain progressive momentum.

Fusing together elements of several alternative stylistic touchstones, Snow Patrol runs alongside bands such as Travis, Coldplay and Keane with a musical appeal that is intentionally subtle and intimate.

“There are swaggering bands, bands who are in your face, and then there are bands who get hold of you somewhere else,” singer/guitarist Gary Lightbody said on the band’s Web site. “I think it’s a heart thing, an intimacy thing. Like you know them and they know you. I think we are one of those bands.”

This is a pretty accurate description of the music, and it’s exactly how Snow Patrol entered the music scene – it’s been two years since the group’s popular single “Run” was released.

As far as the new album is concerned, Eyes Open is a continuation of the last album in many ways. Several songs have the same feel and anthem-like attributes, evidenced as the album opens with the song, “You’re All I Have.” This song, along with “Headlights On Dark Roads,” seems just slightly out of place alongside the band’s strong melodies, catchy hooks and heavier guitar riffs, but is entertaining enough to warrant a full listen.

However, other songs on the album stand out, such as “Chasing Cars.” Probably one of the purest love songs out right now, it has lyrics such as, “All that I am / All that I ever was is here in your perfect eyes.”

“Open Your Eyes” and “Set The Fire To The Third Bar,” which includes guest vocalist Martha Wainwright (a.k.a. Rufus’ sister), are among others that take a more sporadic approach. The boys also branch out a little further by adding a choir of Celtic indie elite (which includes Eugene Kelly, Charlie Clarke, Jenny Reeve and Iain Archer), who appear on four tracks.

Despite growing mainstream popularity, Eyes Open largely maintains its indie sound by avoiding hard-rock, overproduced melodies. Snow Patrol’s album feels more like a genuinely heartfelt continuation of their former album.