Music Review of a Hundred Million Suns by Snow Patrol

Reggie S. Alexander

“Snow Patrol” are a five-piece Irish/Scottish indie/alternative rock band from Dundee. Snow Patrol were formed way back in 1994 and currently the band consists of Gary Lightbody (Vocals and Guitar), Nathan Connolly (Guitar and Backing Vocals), Paul Wilson (Bass), Jonny Quinn (Drums) and Tom Simpson (Keyboards). Snow Patrol were originally known as in indie rock band but have moved to a more alternative rock and power pop sound.

A Hundred Million Suns opens with “If There’s A Rocket Tie Me To It”. It starts off in the distance with the help of synthesizers and gradually sounds louder and gets into the track when the correct momentum hits on. When the guitar comes on, it sounds really good before Gary comes on with his trademark husky yet soft vocals. As Gary sings, the background music carries on and hit a high when Gary goes, “A fire a fire, you can only take what you can carry… A pulse your pulse, it’s the only thing I can remember…” Snow Patrol also gear up the tempo in this part. The remaining 1 minute, If There’s A Rocket Tie Me To It just gets louder and Snow Patrol add some background howls as Gary sings to the end… Great appetizer here…

“Crack The Shutters” begins with delicate piano-playing. Gary’s voice just works so fine with the piano in the verse. In the chorus,the drums just pound on and Gary goes, “Crack the shutters open wide, i want to bathe you in the light of day… And just watch you as the rays, tangle around your face and body…” The guitar also joins in here and the whole track opens to a new tempo and it sounds more lively. It’s not a fast track overall, but it will work on anybody, including you. Believe me.

Once “Take Back The City” starts, the guitar just makes me think that this track could be big. I was instantly connected to Take Back The City. The guitar of Snow Patrol just knows how to blend in so well into this track. With the style they’re playing, Take Back The City should have sounded loud and fierce. But Snow Patrol know what we like about them, and they did it again with this track. They never fail to rock and at the same time, remain as soft and lovely as ever. In the chorus where Gary goes, “It’s a mess, it’s a start, it’s a flawed work of art, your city, your call…”, you would be treated with a repetition of rocking guitar riffs that complement its way to Gary’s vocals. Snow Patrol are having a rocking good time with this track, i can definitely feel it.

“Lifeboats” has some steady guitars going on in the beginning. As the guitar is playing, Gary just comes in and starts singing with his lovely husky voice. No doubt, i like the rhythm of Lifeboats here. Very good stuff! The music just joined by a bass when it comes to certain point that we find Gary goes, “Flashed up in my wildest dreams, like red blood streams, stretch up like vast skies… The veins of you, the veins of me, like gold forest trees… Pushing through and on and in…” Shortly after that, i like the violin-like sound that comes on and off as Gary sings on. If just feels so great listening to it. Lifeboats is one of the tracks that will impress after a few listens. It’s slow and catchy in a way that might give you a wake up call and get you to hit the replay button when the song is nearing the end. And what an ending as well!

“The Golden Floor” has some hand claps going on in the beginning as the guitar plays on in the background. Gary just enters with his vocals not long after The Golden Floor has started. Throughout this track, the hand claps give an impression that they’re replacing the drums even though the drums are being played on this track, but can hardly be heard as the hand claps overwhelmed it by miles. Snow Patrol are very consistent in The Golden Floor, some may find it dull, and some might like it. Still you just have to try The Golden Floor in order to find out.

“Please Just Take These Photos from My Hands” brings the tempo back again. The non-stop guitar strumming seem to be the core element that keeps this song going on as Gary just sings his usual stuffs. In the chorus, the guitar takes on a different riff with high tweak as Gary let it out with, “When all this actual life played out? Where the hell on Earth was I? I rack my brains but it won’t come…” It seems that Snow Patrol already got their trademark guitar sound as i always catch them playing in the same guitar style in almost every fast track. As the song is ending, Gary just sings in repetition, “Please just take these photos from my hands…” One of those tracks that reminds me of “Spitting Games” from the album Final Straw.

“Set Down Your Glass” is a track that brings Snow Patrol from a fast tempo track to a slower tempo track. There are not many instruments being used in Set Down Your Glass, the most obvious sounds are the guitar’s and the vocals of Gary Lightbody. He just possesses the voice of a beautiful ballad and love song singer. I bet Gary would also do incredibly fine if this song were an acapella version. Set Down Your Glass just shows his vocals strength here. Pretty lovely!

“The Planets Bend Between Us” to me is a beautiful love song ballad. And the lyrics itself contain the album title, “A hundred million suns…” Gary makes an impact with his voice here in the vocals, “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…” The part where Gary sings, “It’s all for you…” is the best part of all. I just love the way Gary extend his vocals on the word, “You…” Beautiful and love ballad over here, shows Snow Patrol are capable of writing such meaningful and thought-provoking song that manages to capture every person’s heart. This song will melt you, pamper you and the best of all, touch you.

“Engines” has some howls going on in the beginning before joined by high-pitching guitar riff. After each phrase of singing by Gary, the high pitch guitar riff can be heard in a way that’s almost similar to a dessert after a sumptuous main course. In the chorus, a second guitar can be heard and it possesses fairy tale-like element as it plays on in the chorus along side with Gary’s vocals. One more thing that’s worth mentioning is the cleverly written lyrics, “You say you love me like the silence of the turning earth, you say you love me like the endless roar of modern of life, you say you love me like the laughter and the kissed back tears, you say you love me like the past the now the coming years…” No other word can describe this lyrics except beautiful, unless you can find a better word.

“Disaster Button” has a fast-paced little guitar in the opening. It sounds like it’s getting up the stairs in small steps. Gary just sings as if he were speaking. When it reaches the right momentum, the whole track seems to be taking off in a loud and fast mode and still, Gary just sings on without using much strength, “Throw forward to later, you look light on your feet, when you whirled in the room, i was nailed to my seat…” The guitars of Snow Patrol seems to be enjoying their part by playing it loud most of the time on Disaster Button. Instead of Disaster Button, this song should be called “Explosion Button” due to its loudness and energy in this track.

“The Lightning Strike” ends A Hundred Million Suns with a track that contains three different tracks and it’s over 16 minutes long all together. First track is called “What If This Storm Ends?”. It starts with some steady piano playing for a while before Gary enters with this vocals. As he sings, the music seems to get enriched with instruments like horn and trombone. It doesn’t really have a chorus, just a line of words where Gary sings through. Not a bad first track of a three-track song. Entering the second track, it’s called “Sunlight Through the Flags”. As it continues from “What If This Storm Ends?”, it has a faster-paced piano in the beginning. The deal here is when it comes to a point where the guitar just comes in with a slow looping guitar riff in the background as Gary goes, “Worry not everything is sound, this is the safest place you’ve found, the only noise beating out is ours, lacing our tea from honey jars…” In the end, this track just ends with the piano it first played in the beginning. Come to the third track of “The Lightning Strike”, “Daybreak” leverages on synthesizers for its opening. As Gary enters the verse here, each phrase of the verse is sung with an extending and pulling vocals.

The music suddenly takes a different turn with the bass coming in with a more obvious sound after the first verse. As it gets further into this track, Snow Patrol just focus more on the music and the most obvious sound is the guitar where again it can be heard playing in a way that Snow Patrol are always known for. A very ambitious ending by Snow Patrol!

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