The Hundredth Millionth Sun

Two successive Gary posts in a day. Somewhere in the world, something wonderful must be happening. Maybe  HotBody Lightbody is googling his own name and he finally found this blog. Hallelujah, 'tis been a long time coming.

I reviewed the album. You saw that coming, didn't you? I spent an hour on it, and listened to it twice. And even wrote half an essay on Chekhov, so I feel quite empowered right now. I tried not to sound like a know-it-all, but I can't help the comparisons and the references, its not my fault I've heard all their songs. Being a GL stalker is hard work.

One thing is for certain. Snow Patrol has certainly cheered up. 
While Eyes Open was a heart-wrenching word description of the trajectory of a failed relationship, filled with sensitivity (Chasing Cars), frustration (It's Beginning to Get to Me), penitence (Make This Go On Forever), separation (Set the Fire to the Third Bar), desolation, and acceptance (The Finish Line). Eyes Open brought with itself a set of fourteen masterpieces that merged into one to give the world Snow Patrol's best album. It was an album that defined poignancy, and each track stood out as favourite, and the album as a whole made one surrender, made one float, and made one soar. 

A Hundred Million Suns comes two years after Eyes Open, conceived in Germany, and partly in Ireland, in a house that was located on a cliff that overlooked the sea. The band firmly maintains that this is their best album yet, while most fans tend to believe that with AHMS, they've succumbed to the pressures of chartbuster-music, brought on because of Chasing Cars. Their opinion is that SP's best album is still a toss between Final Straw and Eyes Open. That's what the general mass of them thinks. 

And quite obviously, I disagree.
Yes, AHMS is not Eyes Open. It's cheerful, it's happy, and it's reflective, but in an optimistic way. Both albums make you feel nostalgic, but while Eyes Open will make you think of the days when you felt your worst, and of the days that you wanted to curl up and die just at the thought of another day in your dreary existence, AHMS will bring to your mind the colours of an amusement park flashing past your eyes, the smell of buttered popcorn, the feel of your favourite blanket on a cold night, the taste of your favourite food on the day that you feel the sickest. I wouldn't exactly call it upbeat, but it's definitely one of those albums that will make you smile. Eyes Open reopened wounds and made you cry inside, and AHMS is a phantom kiss on your forehead, it is a reassuring hug, it is a wonderful band-aid.
Snow Patrol goes all out in this album, reverting back to their more gutsy songs, reminiscent of Final Straw's Spitting Games and Tiny Little Fractures. Although their lead guitar has definitely mellowed down, and yes, their bass guitar is not that discernable anymore, Snow Patrol has definitely mastered the art of combining all the standard band instruments, mellowing them down to their style, and throwing in a few piano chords in the mix to make it unique. The chorus of each of their songs is more crowd-friendly, with simple background vocal effects that exude the aura of a large stadium without compromising on the homeliness of the band. Snow Patrol has always maintained that they are not one of the bands that will be remembered for on-stage theatrics - their music and their entire persona is based upon their approachability and their easy going attitude. AHMS amplifies this very maxim. 
Eyes Open was an album which when played in the order of listing, started off with the atmosphere-creating "You Are All I Have", became softer with Chasing Cars, reached a crescendo with Make This Go On Forever, employing martial drum beats, church-choruses and the persistent piano, then quietened again with Set the Fire.., and died down with The Finish Line. 
AHMS is not an album that requires you to play in order, but if you do, then each song will make you wish you had heard it before, because the chorus is so infectious, you wish you knew how to sing along. There is the notable introduction of an acoustic guitar which lends a somewhat pleasantly jangly note, making you feel like you were at a live bar listening to them jam. Take Back the City, the first single from the album, is one of those very songs, bordering on an anthem-like sound, an acoustic bass-line and a tune that grows on you. I know someone who hated it at first listen, then went around humming it the rest of the week. It'll catch your attention, and it'll stay there. My favourite track as of now is Crack the Shutters, with a soundscape reminiscent of You Could Be Happy (high, isolating piano tinklings!), but this song is just so uplifting, it's amazing. A first listen will get you hooked, but by the time you read the lyrics, you wish this song had been written for you. Lifeboats is another one that is racing up my most-played list; I think it's because of the pitch - it just sounds a little different, like half-an-octave off the regular. Of course, I might be wrong, but I think that's why. The Golden Floor is slightly off the beaten track for Snow Patrol, with a very interesting beat that piqued my interest. However, the song that got me all curious was Snow Patrol's first 16-minute long song, called The Lightning Strike. The Lightning Strike has three parts, What if this Storm Ends?, The Sunlight Through the Glass, and Daybreak. All three parts are isolated songs on their own, bound by a common thread. While I would think it ambitious of Snow Patrol to infringe upon long songs that are normally the territory for more "hardcore" progressive rock bands, it's a brave try, and while I wouldn't say that the experiment entirely succeeded, it's nice to see that they're constantly try to reinvent and challenge themselves musically. It's not that I don't like it, but I just really don't see the point of having one long song, when clearly, it's just three songs. I'm assuming they know something I don't?

Conclusively, I'd say that AHMS certainly does not deserve the criticism that it has been the receiving end of. Most people who listen to Snow Patrol are those lovers who've only heard Eyes Open, and a few famous old ones, like Run, Spitting Games, and Chocolate. Yes, Eyes Open got them attention, and yes, it made them very, VERY famous, but it's presumptious to claim that the generally radio-friendly nature of AHMS is a desperate, Billboard-hungry claim to fame. No, Snow Patrol is not trying to knock anyone off the charts with this album, but it's rather clear why they say it's their best album ever. It's subtly diverse, with different beats, different styles. 
But before I finish, I do have to lech over Gary Lightbody.
This guy is just unbelievable. I have ABSOLUTELY no words for him. He is just hot. The dishevelled wild look of Chasing Cars, the clean, light-stubbly Chocolate, and then neurotically love-struck in Crack the Shutters, this man makes me melt. And as if his visual appeal wasn't enough, he has an Irish accent, an amazingly English sense of sarcastic, wordplay humour. And he has pretty eyes.
And on top of that, he is about the most sensitive lyricist that I have heard of. He is one of those people who manages to write flattering and wonderful things about a girl, without being even a tiny bit corny, or cheesy or cliched. In When It's All Over, We Still Have to Clear Up, he makes being a stalker sexy with An Olive Grove Facing the Sea. He makes bonfires adventurous with Firelight.
In Songs for Polarbears, he sang Velocity Girl, and we all know what that did to me. In Final Straw, he brought on the apocalypse with Chocolate, became a high-school stalker in Spitting Games, and showed the magic of plain and simple piano with Same and also, the violin in Grazed Knees. And then in Eyes Open, we all forgave him for his mistakes, and we all fell in love, even though the album was penned by Lightbody in the avatar of a repenting philanderer. 
And then in A Hundred Million Suns, he finally pushed me over the edge with Crack the Shutters. 

Thanks a lot, Gary. Because of you, my expectations is the opposite sex are soaring high. They need to be tall, they need to be songwriters, and they need to be friendly.
Bonus points if their name is Gary.
Bnous browniepoints if their surname is Lightbody.

Oh God, I need to get a life.


  1. cry freedom said...
    i opened this page. and did not read. but thought i'd comment anyway.
    Death On Two Legs said...
    No you don't :D

    Men have more flair, flavour and sex appeal than boys.
    Poets have more sensitivity, style and charisma than most men.

    Sreeja said...
    omg. I didn't read the whole thing either, but I think I spotted an anecdote about me in there.

    Anyway, I heard Golden Floor and everything, but I like Set Down Your Glass (*****) and Lifeboats (****) best.

    And of course, Take Back The City. (** + *** Bonus) Damn that song!
    Sahana said...
    And has NO ONE read my album review. Sheesh, even when I try, no one takes me seriously. >.<

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