This dutifully inoffensive collection from the Irish-Scottish quintet is indiscernible from anything the group has done before. It's all very earnest and "nice"--but nice can be the kiss of death in the passion fires of rock music.
Snow Patrol's sound most closely resembles that of London supergroup Coldplay; they're following in Coldplay's footsteps, but treading lighter. Both bands reach for huge, bet-it-all choruses, but Snow Patrol does it with restraint. Whether out of necessity or choice, lead guitarist Nathan Connolly refrains from the screaming and often stirring crescendos of his Coldplay counterpart Jonny Buckland.
The problem is, left to wax rhapsodic in their selected range, Snow Patrol have trouble finding new tones, colors and expressions. You're left to drill down on the lyrics, which would seem solid coming out of a high school poetry class, but are far too clumsy and precious to fly in the real world.
There's no point in savaging these sweet chaps any further. Besides, if you're 19 and just suffered the crushing end of a first relationship, this disc may be the perfect salve.
SP gained some well-deserved praise for their sincere and artful musings on their first few releases. But so long as they continue to troll the same dewy glen, to have one Snow Patrol album is to have them all.