1. Take Back The City (Reworked)
2. Open Your Eyes (Reworked)
3. Time Won’t Go Slowly
4. Chocolate (Reworked)
5. Set The Fire To The Third Bar (Reworked)
6. Made Of Something Different Now
7. You’re All I Have (Reworked)
8. I Think Of Home
9. Empress (Reworked)
10. Run (Reworked)
11. Heal Me (Reworked)
12. Called Out In The Dark (Reworked)
13. Crack The Shutters (Reworked)
14. Chasing Cars (Reworked)
15. Just Say Yes (Reworked)
16. Don’t Give In (Reworked)
Snow Patrol have reworked some of their best known tracks and released two new tracks on two EP’s, released in August and September. They have added another seven reworked versions of their songs and another new one to provide a bumper sixteen track album to celebrate the journey they have had over the past 25 years.
The reworked tracks are from their third to seventh albums, with the most represented album unsurprisingly being their number one album ‘Eyes Open’. The collection is a great example of their 25 years of work. I was pondering on how to approach this review. It would be easy to compare each reworked track with it’s original, but any Snow Patrol fan would know what the original sounds like, so it seems apt to consider this album as a stand alone album, without pre conceived ideas, so I hope I have succeeded.
There will inevitably be some comparisons, just to use as datums. So to steer away from this, it is worth considering the new songs. ‘Time Won’t Go Slowly’ is a warm expansive number with Gary Lightbody almost crooning over simple piano and understated guitars. It has an almost dreamy atmosphere. ’Made Of Something Different Now’ is a dark story of separation. It has a more electronic oppressive accompaniment. It also has a dreamy quality, but is more subversive and hypnotic. ‘I Think Of Home’ , is a beautiful slice of nostalgia with Gary Lightbody regaling experiences as a child. It is deeply personal song and this makes it even more engaging. So the new songs show that Snow Patrol can still produce instantly relatable songs with great musicianship.
I have decided the best way to look at the reworked song is by original album, in order. That way a sense of progression can be established, whilst providing a datum. So from ‘Final Straw’ we have one of Snow Patrols most recognisable tracks, ‘Chocolate’. This version is sumptuous and slow, with sublime steel guitar and the song is delivered in melancholic waves that wash over you. By contrast ‘Run’ is an electronic, distorted mournful piece. I must admit, at first I hated it, but give it a chance, after a few listens it is a grower, especially for the emotion of the last line.
‘Eyes Open’ is a great album and I was glad that it is so well represented on this collection. The first one to get the rework treatment is ‘Open Your Eyes’, which is a bouncy folky number with a nice tempo. The acoustic guitar is simple and pure and the arrangement is crisp. ‘Set The Fire To The Third Bar’ gets an almost Kraftwerk treatment and builds really well and retains it’s original power. ‘You’re All I Have’ is another lament with piano and simple acoustic guitar, the subtle echo, like with other tracks give a dreamy feel. ‘Chasing Cars’ is again one of Snow Patrol’s most recognisable songs. As such this has not been radically changed, but has more atmosphere with exquisite steel guitar. The percussion is understated but drives the song, like a heartbeat. As with the original, this song is a real stand out. You cannot improve ‘Chasing Cars’? Apparently you can!
There are two songs from ‘Hundred Million Suns’. ‘Reworked’ opens with ‘Take Back The City’ which shines as a lament to Gary Lightbody’s hometown of Belfast. Its simplicity builds throughout the song which adds weight to the lyrics. ‘Crack The Shutters’ is full on electronica, even Gary’s voice is distorted. Like ‘Run’ I hated this at first and it will divide opinion, but it grew on me.
‘Fallen Empires’ is represented by a solitary track in the form of ‘Called Out In The Dark’. Another Lament about the history of Belfast. It is an up tempo number that starts very acoustic and builds with more electronic musicality. ‘Up To Now’ only has one song from it, which is unsurprising as it was a compilation album. ‘Just Say Yes’ was a new single on this greatest hits Compilation. This version is a warm uplifting song with a simple acoustic guitar riff and a warbling steel guitar. The focus is on Gary Lightbody’s delicate vocal as the song ebbs and flows.
Three songs are taken from last years album ‘Wildness’. ‘Empress’ whilst on first listen seems a simple song, there is a lot of complexity in the arrangement which adds a lot of depth to the mournful lyrics. A catchy acoustic guitar riff introduces ‘Heal Me’, and this track also has a deceptive complexity with the beautiful steel guitar. I am a sucker for a warbling steel guitar and this album has it in spades. Appropriately ‘Reworked’ closes with a track from their latest album. ‘Don’t Give In’ and a charming and engaging closure it is, retaining the dreamy feel of the album.
I think that that the more electronic numbers, disrupt the album. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the production, they just break up the flow. On their own, they are great tracks, but without them, I think that you could put this album on in a dark room and float away, totally enveloped in it.
It is sometimes dangerous to take iconic songs from your back catalogue and to rework them. Snow Patrol have taken some of our favourite slices of melancholy from the past 25 years and worked them into a beautiful soundscape that needs to be listened to. Like meeting an old friend from years ago to find that whilst they are the same person, they have grown in depth and maturity. It is best not to judge them on first impressions, but to re-engage, understand them, and remind yourself why you loved them in the first place.
Reworked is released on November 8th.
Website - www.snowpatrol.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SnowPatrol/
Review - Tony Creek