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Snow Patrol - A Hundred Million Suns

posted 31 Dec 2011, 00:45 by olnf Admin   [ updated 31 Dec 2011, 03:27 ]
Author: Sudeep Jaiswal

Snow Patrol
‘A Hundred Million Suns’ (2008)

Snow Patrol released their fifth studio album, ‘A Hundred Million Suns’ two years after the massively successful ‘Eyes Open’. Follow-ups to big albums are always tough; guitarist John Frusciante departed from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ after the famous ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ (1991). Their next album, ‘One Hot Minute’ (1995) is considered a weak RHCP album, though it was largely marred by new guitarist Dave Navarro’s drug problems.

The album was recorded in Grouse Lodge Studio in Ireland and the legendary Hansa Tonstudio in Berlin (where David Bowie recorded ‘Heroes’ and U2 ‘Achtung Baby’).


1. ‘If There’s a Rocket Tie Me to It’ (4:19): Though the name is quirky, the song is not. It paints a picture of missing someone and how the thought of them is the only thing that keeps you going. A strong opener, it was the third single from the album.

2. ‘Crack the Shutters’ (3:20):  It’s about making love with the girl you love, period. Snow Patrol does it beautifully with Lightbody’s (lead singer and songwriter) haunting lyrics and the band’s chugging rhythm. Lightbody considers this a purer love song that ‘Chasing Cars’. It was taken as the second single from the album.

3. ‘Take Back the City’ (4:40): Lightbody grew up in Belfast, in a time of major unrest between Catholics and Protestants. The lyrics talk about Lightbody’s love for the city despite everything and how Belfast has grown into a modern city today; he also says that the song can be applied to any other city. Taken as the first single from the album, it was the first song from the album that I heard, and I did not like it. But it has grown on me.

4. ‘Lifeboats’ (4:41): As the name suggests, the song is about a call for help. It’s also about holding things inside and thinking too much. After three relatively fast paced songs, the album slows down here.

5. ‘The Golden Floor’ (3:19): The song is about being together despite problems. It has some similar sounding portions that seem gibberish. I’ve found out that they are the chorus itself, mixed down and played in reverse. Very nice.

6. ‘Please Just Take These Photos From My Hands’ (4:25): On this fast paced song, Lightbody writes about seeing a box filled with photographs in his house and spending the night drinking while going through them, regretting about not being present when those events transpired. Knowing that he had a drinking problem before, the song may very well be from personal experience.

7. ‘Set Down Your Glass’ (3:43): The album slows down again. With the opening lyrics “Just close your eyes and count to five”, it seems that the listener is being told to take a breather. Lyrics-wise, the song is about getting blank and speechless in front of someone you love.

8. ‘The Planets Bend Between Us’ (4:18): Gary Lightbody wrote this haunting love song inspired by the weather around his beach house in Belfast. It was the fourth and final single from the album and was reworked by the band for the release. I personally like the album version better. The song contains the lyric ‘a hundred million suns’, which Lightbody said “cried out to be the album title”.

9. ‘Engines’ (5:10): My personal favourite from the album. The lyrics appear to be about a dying relationship, with the singer clarifying that all said and done, he did love her. Since it contains the lyric “use me forever use me as rocket fuel”, I think it may be connected to the first song; ‘If There’s a Rocket…” maybe happens after the relationship ends in ‘Engines’.

10. ‘Disaster Button’ (3:58): This song is going out of control and being powerless to change it even though you realize the problem. I feel it may be about Lightbody’s drinking problem. Very fast-paced, excellent playing by the band all around.

11. ‘The Lightning Strike’ (16:18): It really is sixteen minutes long. The name and duration scream ‘ambitious’. It has three parts, ‘What If This Storm Ends?’, ‘The Sunlight Through the Flags’ and ‘Daybreak’. Part I builds up steadily, part II middles along to give way for part III, which is earnest and reaches a very satisfying end. The live performance of the song features a beautiful animated video played on a big screen in the background. It contains stars, animals and lots of other things, all made from origami. The album cover, all four single covers and the video for ‘If There’s a Rocket…’ feature origami as well. As for the meaning, I don’t know. I’ve never tried to figure that out.

Though ‘Eyes Open’ was a tough one to follow, Snow Patrol did not choose the safe route. They wrote ambitious songs and used myriad instruments to compose them. Gary Lightbody usually writes on topics related to love, and the songs on this album are no different. His lyrics are mostly amazing and the band is always top notch. Critically though, the reception was lukewarm and commercially, the album sold well below expectation. But as a piece of music, I love it.