I’m going to lay my cards on the table from the start: Snow Patrol are my favorite band and have been for years. However, there seems to be a misconception lingering in the media and with the general public that since their biggest hit is a ballad, they are somehow a soft or safe band. To that, I say stop being so judgmental and actually listen.
A spin of the band’s Greatest Hits should be enough to quiet some of the naysayers. The record highlights tracks from the band’s breakthrough, Final Straw, through their latest release, last year’s Fallen Empires (conspicuously missing are their first two albums, released through an indie label). The selection is heavily weighted toward Eyes Open, the record that featured the omnipresent hit “Chasing Cars.” Are there ballads? Yes, but so much more.
The first song up is the piano and choir-driven “What If This Storm Ends?” the first portion of the sixteen-minute track “The Lightning Strike.” The original cut has three movements blending together seamlessly, but for the first time this beginning portion has been isolated in its haunting, gloomy glory. “Chasing Cars” follows (because of course the greatest hit has to appear early), but the next song, “Run,” is a simplistic masterpiece that cuts straight to the heart.
Epic songs of love in desperate times are not lacking (“Open Your Eyes,” “Make This Go On Forever”), but there’s a masterful range of style and influence on display as well. “Set the Fire to the Third Bar” benefits from making the central instrument Martha Wainwright’s dynamic voice, while “Called Out in the Dark” has a funky beat and memorable riff. Electro-tinged pop shines through on the single “Just Say Yes,” and “Take Back the City” is a big, shameless rock song. Perhaps the most outstanding song is the most understated, the quiet, poignant “You Could Be Happy,” a eulogy of a relationship if ever there was one.
Longtime fans will find nothing new or even collectable about this album. However, for the casual fan this is the perfect way to dabble in the band’s major label material to go a bit deeper.