Based on the few Snow Patrol songs I've heard, I expected a low-key album layered in muted shades of melancholy. What I got was mainstream rock with rhymes that were predictable and songwriting that was almost -- but not quite -- exciting.
"You're All I Have" (and an unfortunate number of the other songs here) sounds like the Gin Blossoms with a singer from the U.K. "Shut Your Eyes" and "Make This Go On Forever" bring to mind every ill-fated band who was neither talented nor sappy enough to pull off an anthemic, chart-topping power ballad. "You Could Be Happy" should be titled "You Could Be Coldplay."
Not to say everything on Eyes Open is calculated and dull. The single, "Chasing Cars," deserved all the mainstream attention it received. The duet with Martha Wainwright on "Set the Fire to the Third Bar" slowly crescendos into a captivating tension, despite lyrics that leave me wondering what happened to the Second Bar, and an ending that just, well, ends. One of the more boring songs, "Headlights on Dark Roads," opens with what might be the strongest words on the album: "For once I want to be the car crash, not always just the traffic jam."
It seems Snow Patrol is trying to create a musical metaphor for paying attention to our lives as we travel through our personal adventures. We need to open our eyes and see the beauty that surrounds us on our journey. We must continue to move and to grow, without sacrificing the treasures that have already blessed us. It's a great message; I just wish they'd found a more interesting way to say it.
As a whole, the music is a variation on the same old arena rock formula that bands and record labels have been shoving down our throats for decades. The lyrics are pedestrian, and rely on simplistic and unnecessary moon/June/spoon rhyme schemes. The slow songs are the only places where Snow Patrol shines, but even that brightness is inconsistent.
The cover is pretty good, but the rest of the package is dull. Although it's obvious that the designers are skilled, the digital imagery is one step above the homemade Photoshop art that graced a zillion CD jackets throughout the 90s. The typeface on the back cover was overused by 1994, but then again, so was most of the music here.
Listen if you like: Gin Blossoms, Goo Goo Dolls, Foo Fighters, Train
If it were food, it'd be: canned corn with lots of margarine.