Snow Patrol and Reindeer Section


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Snow Patrol: Songs For Polar Bears (2000), 5/10
Snow Patrol: When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up (2001), 5/10
Snow Patrol: Final Straw (2003), 5.5/10
Reindeer Section: Y'all Get Scared Now Ya Hear (2001), 4/10
Reindeer Section: Son of Evil Reindeer (2002), 4/10
Snow Patrol: Eyes Open (2006), 6/10
Snow Patrol: A Hundred Million Suns (2008), 5/10
Snow Patrol: Fallen Empires (2012), 4/10
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Snow Patrol, who relocated to Scotland from Belfast (Northern Ireland), sounded like a bad copy of Belle And Sebastian on Songs For Polar Bears (Jeepster, 2000), with the moribund Fifteen Minutes Old but also the loud boogie of Starfighter Pilot, and When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up (Jeepster, 2001), with the whispered psychedelic singalong of Ask Me How I Am and the casual shuffle of Making Enemies, aimless melodies anchored to mildly rocking rhythms that worked wonders as background muzak.

Final Straw (Polydor, 2003), with the touching How To be Dead, the dense, intense and dreamy Coldplay-esque Run, the jangling singalong Chocolate, and the pulsating march-like Spitting Games, began to converge towards a more personal style. They were becoming one of the most successful acts of the 2000s.

Reindeer Section was a Scottish super-group ("super" also in quantity, as it featured fifteen musicians) assembled by Gary Lightbody of the Snow Patrol, who borrowed members of Arab Strap, Belle And Sebastian, Mogwai, etc. Their first album, Y'all Get Scared Now Ya Hear (Pias, 2001), was received enthusiastically by the press, despite the fact that each song was vastly inferior to the standards of the original bands. Adding members of Teenage Fanclub and Idlewild, Son of Evil Reindeer (Bright Star Recordings, 2002) delivered more pop boredom, with the notable exception of You Are My Joy.

Gary Lightbody's fourth Snow Patrol album, Eyes Open (2006), the top British album of the year as far as sales go, was mostly a tedious dinner party but it also delivered some of their most distinctive songs. The soaring refrain of You're All I Have relies on pounding drums and distorted guitars. The verve of Hands Open is propelled by a hard-rock riff. The combination of rhythm and vocals bestows Shut Your Eyes with a dark suspenseful atmosphere. Towering over everything else, the hit Chasing Cars was their most memorable melody, staged in a relatively empty space. A driving rhythm also surfaced in Headlights on Dark Roads but the refrain was too languid even by his standards. Open Your Eyes and You Could Be Happy are other stately melodies, the former lulled in a lush crescendo and the latter drifting in a sparse soundscape.

However, A Hundred Million Suns (2008) was another million-seller thanks to the mellow piano-driven orchestral crescendo Crack the Shutters, the rhythmic tricks of The Golden Floor, and the sentimental ballad The Planets Bend Between Us. It also included the lengthy The Lightening Strike. The sprightly but tedious Take Back the City (reminiscent of the Cars) tried in vain to break the routine.

Up To Now (2009) was a Snow Patrol career retrospective. It also included a couple of worthy experiments with funk-rock and hip-hop (Crazy in Love) and with disco-music (Just Say Yes).

Muzak has rarely sounded blander than it does on Fallen Empires (2012), for which they enlisted producer Jacknife Lee's majestic ambience.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Andrea Marengo)

Gli Snow Patrol, trasferitisi dalla Scozia a Belfast (Irlanda del Nord), sembravano la brutta copia dei Belle And Sebastian su Songs For Polar Bears (Jeepster, 2000), contenente l'agonizzante Fifteen Minutes Old e il potente boogie di Starfighter Pilot, mentre When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up (Jeepster, 2001), conteneva il cantato psichedelico e sussurrato di Ask Me How I Am e l'incurante shuffle di Making Enemies. Questi erano album dove inutili melodie ancorate a gentili ritmi rock degradavano le tracce a muzak da sottofondo.

Final Straw (Polydor, 2003), con la toccante How To Be Dead, la densa ed emotiva Run, (che si avvicina ai Coldplay), il cantato stridente di Chocolate e la marcia vibrante di Spitting Games, inizia a confluire in uno stile più personale. Essi stavano per diventare uno dei fenomeni di maggior successo del primo decennio.

Reindeer Section era un supergruppo scozzese ("super" anche in termini di quantità dato che presentava la bellezza di quindici membri) che prendeva in prestito membri degli Arab Strap, Belle And Sebastian, Mogwai ecc... tutti riuniti da Gary Lightbody degli Snow Patrol. Il loro primo album, Y'all Get Scared Now Ya Hear (Pias, 2001), venne accolto in modo entusiastico dalla stampa, benché ogni traccia fosse nettamente inferiore agli standard della band, mentre Son Of Evil Reindeer (Bright Star Recordings, 2002), che aggiungeva membri di Teenage Fanclub e Idlewild, esprimeva ancora più monotonia pop (la sola eccezione degna di nota è You Are My Joy).

Eyes Open (2006), il quarto album degli Snow Patrol di Gary Lightbody, fu l'album che raggiunse la vetta delle classifiche britanniche dell'anno vantando un considerevole successo di vendite, ma benché fosse perlopiù un festino noioso, esso dava alla luce alcune delle canzoni più rappresentative del gruppo. Il ritornello librante di You're All I Have fa affidamento sulla batteria martellante e sulle chitarre distorte. Lo spirito di Hands Open è trainato da riff hard rock. La combinazione di ritmi e voci conferisce a Shut Your Eyes un'atmosfera tenebrosa e piena di suspense. La hit di Chasing Cars svetta su qualsiasi altra traccia grazie alla sua melodia abbandonata nel vuoto, fino a quel momento la più memorabile del gruppo. Un ritmo trascinante emerge anche su Headlights On Dark Roads, benché il ritornello sia eccessivamente languido anche per gli standard del gruppo. Open Your Eyes e You Could Be Happy sono altre melodie solenni: se la prima culla l'ascoltatore in un crescendo emotivo, la seconda si trasforma in un paesaggio sonoro rarefatto. 

Nonostante ciò, A Hundred Million Suns (2008) fu un altro enorme successo di vendite grazie al languido crescendo pianistico e orchestrale di Crack The Shutters, agli ingegni ritmici di The Golden Floor e alla ballata sentimentale di Between Us. L'album include inoltre la lunga The Lighening Strike. La vivace ma noiosa Take Back The City (che ricorda i Cars) tenta invano di sfuggire alla routine.

Up To Now (2009) era la retrospettiva di carriera degli Snow Patrol, che includeva inoltre un paio di lodevoli esperimenti nel funk-rock e hip-hop (Crazy In Love) e nella disco-music (Just Say Yes). 

La loro muzak raramente è stata tanto scialba quanto su Fallen Empires (2012), in cui veniva adoperata le atmosfere maestose di Jacknife Lee.

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