Why is it that when bands 'make it' and have both wealth and the talents of a skilled producer at their disposal, they insist on chasing their tails musically? At the risk of both invoking the ire of Snow Patrol fans and embarking on an anti-MOR diatribe, just let the above consideration defrost in your mental microwave. Gone are the heady days of releasing largely ignored, but charmingly twee albums (Songs For Polar Bears, When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up) on an indie label (Jeepster); the success of 2003's Final Straw means that Snow Patrol are playing with the big boys these days. Enlisting erstwhile U2 producer Garret 'Jacknife' Lee was a canny move by the Northern Irish/Scottish collective, and his flair for honing powerful, stadium-filling anthems is all too apparent on Eyes Open. In other words, it sounds almost exactly like Final Straw. Snow Patrol have become a band whose music is so predictable and safe that unravelling it is as about as difficult as solving the kiddie crossword in the Funday Times. There's the slow-building tracks with big choruses and majestic orchestral endings that will delight polo shirt-wearing, air punching males at festivals this summer (Hands Open, Open Your Eyes, You're All I Have), the slow-burning ballads akin to Run that will delight OC-watching girls (Chasing Cars, Make This Go On Forever) and on It's Beginning To Get To Me they've taken the blueprint of Stereophonics' Dakota and.. well, not done much to it, actually. Lightbody's penchant for raising his voice at the end of a sentence may be endearing to some, but the last time I checked, Belfast wasn't anywhere near Australia. His feeble attempts at elevating his indie cred 'Put Sufjan Stevens on, we'll play your favourite song' - (Hands Open) and a disappointingly prosaic duet with Martha Wainwright (Set the Fire to the Third Bar) prove both exasperating and fruitless. Rarely do Snow Patrol rise above mediocrity on Eyes Open, and rarely do they capture the charm that even stretches of Final Straw embraced. Their guise as eventual successors to U2's 'Stadium Kings' crown is safe; and in every possible sense of the word, too.
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