For all its ambition and change of tack, it deals a frustratingly safe hand - but delivers the odd moment of greatness.
A Hundred Million Suns, Snow Patrol
Despite being one of the UK's most successful bands, Snow Patrol have endured their fair share of criticism. The Northern Irish/Scottish fivesome's tuneful brand of misery is deemed way too accessible to be cool. True, they are far from edgy, but huge album sales and gongs aplenty mean they must be doing something right. A Hundred Million Suns is, like their previous two albums, packed with instantly likeable hits (guaranteed to attract disdain from some). But gone is the all-pervading winter of Final Straw and Eyes Open. Spring has come to Snow Patrol. If There Is a Rocket Tie Me To It is a stonking opener, with Gary Lightbody's quavering falsetto lending the still occasionally gut-wrenching lyrics a whiff of positivity. Crack the Shutters is a rolling, upbeat guitar grinder; and by the time we get to the third track, Take Back the City, we could almost be listening to Kaiser Chiefs. The Golden Floor is an altogether new sound: all syncopated beats and chill-out vibes. But the highlight is the sweeping 16-minute finale, The Lightning Strike: an ambitious three-part number with an intertwining theme. However, for all its ambition and change of tack, A Hundred Million Suns deals a frustratingly safe hand, delivering the odd moment of greatness, but taking far too few risks.