i love gary lightbody. i do. i've been a snow patrol and reindeer section fan for the last 5 years. up until 'eyes open,' one could never accuse gary lightbody of not wearing his heart on his record sleeve. those familiar with his work in the reindeer section know gary lightbody is more than capable of an emotional punch quite unlike anyone else. snow patrol's third album, 'final straw,' was again evidence that gary lightbody could deliver the emotional goods while delivering a great song and melody.
unfortunately, 'eyes open' is a step backwards in the band's evolution. musically, the album is just plain boring. it's essentially 'guitar-by-the-numbers.' there's no real imagination anywhere(a.k.a. 'the coldplay curse'). every song is basically similar in tone, style and tempo. that's not particularly a bad thing, but when that style isn't very interesting to begin with, it leaves you wishing 'eyes open' were a whole lot more than it actually is. the album opener, 'you're all i have' is decent enough. it's reminiscent of 'spitting games.' 'hands open' however, is an exercise is MOR rock tailor made for VH1. it made me cringe. it's instantly forgettable. 'shut your eyes' is a so-so track and at least offers a slightly varied guitar riff. 'it's beginning to get me' is the album standout, if there is one. unfortunately, it took 1/2 an album to hear the first memorable melody despite its truly vapid lyric, 'i want something purer than the water, like we were.' is this the same guy who wrote 'where i fall' off 'son of evil reindeer?' and 'an olive grove facing the sea' off 'when it's all over we still have to clear things up?' what's happened to the lyrics? they are, by and large, cliched, tired, and well-worn. they lack any real cleverness, playfulness or insight. i know he can do better because he's done it in the past. i'm sure he will do it again. i just wish it were on this album. maybe he needs to get those blokes from arab strap, belle & sebastian, mogwai and the like back in the same room together to push his creative juices.
the album, however, does have some redeeming value. gary lightbody's voice is still a wonderful thing. it's nuanced, especially in the pronunciation of words. he easily jumps between his regular singing voice and his falsetto. unfortunately, it's lacks the same vulnerability as on past snow patrol and reindeer section albums, however. the album, i'm sure, will appeal to a lot of people simply because it's not challenging on any level.
in all fairness, it must be a huge challenge to follow up an album as successful and well-received as 'final straw.' the pressure to make something as commercially viable while keeping artistic intregrity i'm sure is more than a bit overwhelming. hopefully gary lightbody and co.'s next album will sound less forced, less commercialized, and not so overly-produced, because when gary lightbody's on the top of his game, he simply can't be beat.
UPDATE: amazon had this posted as a spotlight review then took it down the following day. i suspect the corportate bigwigs who run snow patrol's label demanded amazon remove a unfavorable review from the spotlight review, even though a majority of the reviews for the new album are less than favorable. shame on you, amazon.