With the release of Snow Patrol’s fifth studio album, “A Hundred Million Suns,” one can’t help thinking the Northern Irish outfit has begun to melt.
The melancholy, brooding lyrics and electric guitar found in previous hit songs like “Chasing Cars” are missing. Instead, listeners are subjected to what amounts to “Snow Patrol Unplugged.”
The acoustic guitar, a rarity in Snow Patrol’s previous works, appears in half of the tracks. The upbeat vocals that accompany the guitar seem out of place for the band, and it’s not difficult to imagine lead singer and guitarist Gary Lightbody signing a $50 million contract with the words “sellout” at the top when listening to uninspired songs such as “Take Back the City” and “Lifeboats.”
Even Snow Patrol’s forays into the more familiar territory feel off. “Engines” seems like a bad tribute to Queen given the liberal use of background vocals. “Please Just Take These Photos from My Hands” suffers from the unfortunate syndrome of Lightbody attempting to sing in a happy, feel-good tone.
Beneath Snow Patrol’s failures, though, are two good songs reminiscent of the band’s previous works. “If There’s a Rocket Tie Me to It” has an intoxicating guitar hook and Lightbody’s signature rich, dark vocals that made their 2004 single “Run” such a success.
The second-to-last track on the CD, “Disaster Button,” features upbeat electric guitar and angst-filled lyrics. Though not Snow Patrol’s bread and butter, it is a bad, but rare example of when the band actually strays from its normal sound. Vaguely reminiscent of “Spitting Games,” a song which grew very popular in the videogaming community for its appearance in MVP Baseball 2004, it’s catchy enough to merit some serious radio time.
“A Hundred Million Suns” contains some good music, but overall, it seems more like a journey with Snow Patrol into the rough waters of musical experimentation. Let’s hope the band returns to port with its next release.