Ego-less Rock Stars.
There are no pictures of Snow Patrol on their latest album A Hundred Million Suns. It’s an indication that this is still the humble Irish band that fans have been supporting since their debut ten years ago. In 2006 their last album, Eyes Open, became the biggest selling cd of the year in Britain and one of the biggest selling rock releases worldwide. Their shimmering emotionalism is the perfect vehicle for boy-band pin-ups but they seem determined to prove that stunning, romantic rock songs can be conjured up without the rock star trappings. Then again, they could just be a bunch of really ugly dudes.
Gary Lightbody is the faceless front man and lyricist. His heart on his sleeve love songs backed by the slow core/shoe gazing accompaniment are nothing short of stunning and the hard-edged guitars of the last album have been toned down by producer Jackknife Lee to make A Hundred Million Suns very consistent. Rockers “If There’s a Rocket Tie Me To It”, “Take Back the City” and “Please Just Take These Photos From My Hands” with their stadium sing-a-long choruses are all viable follow ups to the mega hit “Chasing Cars” from two years ago. The more experimental songs provide ample variety from that satisfying but obvious formula. “Lifeboats” uses a stabbing synth/string flourish to give it a slightly Middle Eastern feel. “The Planets Bend Between Us” is simply their most beautiful ballad ever and the sixteen minute, three movement closing epic “The Lightning Strike” points to a deeper, more intricate future.
History has not been kind to bands of Snow Patrol’s ilk but A Hundred Million Suns declares that these guys are different. Call it chick rock or saccharine sweet but, like many guilty pleasures there’s something substantial to it, more than just some pretty boys on the cover.
Listen for songs from the album A Hundred Million Suns by Snow Patrol all this week on Paul Shugrue’s new music show “Out of the Box” on Hampton Roads public radio 89.5 WHRV Mon. through Thurs. from 7 to 9 p.m., Sat. afternoon from 1 to 5 p.m. and on-demand at www.whrv.org/outofthebox.