Snow Patrol
Up to Now


4.0
excellent

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
November 28th, 2009 | 58 replies | 9,048 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Underrated Scots show noobs what they've been missing out on pre-"Chasing Cars"

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

Retrospective collections can work one of two ways. You can listen to them and reobtain your long-lost appreciation for the band and their work, with the tracks featured providing some of the highlights of their career. On the other hand, it could simply drive home just how little of the artists’ work you actually enjoy; or perhaps you’ll begin to perceive the band as only good with their singles. It’s for this reason that you should go into listening to things like Snow Patrol’s latest release, Up to Now, with a wary mind about you – especially considering it’s a thirty-track, two CD compilation.

Sure, like most releases that are convinced they necessitate two discs, the likable Scots could have probably put this together on one disc. Having said that, Up to Now will probably work you further towards the first reaction. For all the Grey’s Anatomy montages and decline in overall album quality in recent years, Snow Patrol are still pretty far from terrible, as many critics have made them out to be over the years. Matter of fact, Up to Now indicates they’re close to pretty good.

The premise of Up to Now is to look back at the band’s fifteen year career with selections from all five studio albums, in addition to some b-sides, three new songs and, somewhat inexplicably, two tracks from vocalist Gary Lightbody’s side project, The Reindeer Section. Sure, it’s a little overstuffed – not to mention the tracklisting is absolutely all over the place. Still, it’s a good opportunity to expose more recent listeners to sections of the band’s more lo-fi/indie work from 1998’s Songs for Polarbears and 2001’s wonderfully titled When It’s All Over, We Still Have to Clear Up.

Polarbears’ “Starfighter Pilot” is still as bouncy and catchy as it was eleven years ago; the stirring “Fifteen Minutes Old”, meanwhile, recalls Facts-era Death Cab for Cutie meets Things We Lost-era Low. Tracks from Clear Up, like the gorgeous “Ask Me How I Am” and “An Olive Grove Facing the Sea” (which has been especially re-recorded for the compilation) are not only strongly-written tracks on their own, but allow an insight into who the band was, juxtaposed with who they would become following 2004’s Final Straw.

Let’s note that who they became is not intended for negative connotations (i.e. no-one is pointing the “sellout” finger). Hell, Final Straw may well be the band’s best album – disc one opener “Chocolate”, the band’s first ‘hit’ in “Run” (here featured both live and in the studio) and “Spitting Games” all get a slot here, just a small highlight reel of a consistently interesting pop album. Tracks from 2008’s A Hundred Million Suns don’t hold a great deal of interest, but lead single “Take Back the City” is certainly a lot catchier than first remembered. The platinum seller Eyes Open gets the lion’s share here – a move which is commercially understandable but creatively dumbfounding. No-one – repeat: NO-ONE – needs to hear “Chasing Cars” again. Not even Kate Walsh and Katherine Heigl as they rush to the aid of McDreamy, McSteamy and McWhatever.

There are three new songs here to accompany the retrospect. You know when songs just sound like they’re the thrown-together pastiches for the hits CD just to move a few more units? Breathe easy – even in their flaws, these tracks at least show some kind of effort. “Just Say Yes”, the single chosen out of the three, is a spacey slice of synth-pop with Tom Simpson’s spiralling keys and bleeps that dominate the soundscape. The atmosphere is lovely, though the awe-inspired chorus is all too familiar. It’s not a bad track by any means, but hardly the kind of fearless revolution the band makes it out to be – especially with the cheesy lyrics (“I can feel your heart beating through my shirt”) and the looming fact the song was nearly recorded by Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls.

“Give Me Strength” is much more compacted and crystal-eyed, as layers of harpsichord, acoustic guitar and a swelling string section guide Lightbody’s frail and weary voice – resulting in a strong ballad, perhaps one of their better ones in recent years. “Dark Roman Wine” lulls in comparison to the other new tracks. It’s a beat-less waltz of low-key accordion loops and echoing atypical Lightbody delivery – it motions as if it’s about to take off and soar, yet never does. Disappointing? A little, but one would suppose it’s to be expected by new compilation material.

Up to Now is a fully blown look back at a fifteen year career. It’s hardly been smooth sailing, and there’s material here that will both alienate and annoy fans old and new. Even so, if you’re only going to own one Snow Patrol record, it might as well be this one.



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user ratings (31)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
J. Ponton EMERITUS (2.5)
While it is a rocky listening experience, Up To Now proves that Snow Patrol have more to offer than ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
taylormemer
November 28th 2009



4917 Comments


Boring

Ponton
Emeritus
November 28th 2009



5790 Comments


Oh wow.... I just typed a review for this >_>

haha good review.

I love this:

the band’s first ‘hit’ in “Run”


AtavanHalen
November 28th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

=(, stop describing yourself.

Fanks Observer, sorry for cuttin' yr grass

Ponton
Emeritus
November 28th 2009



5790 Comments


I think I'll just delete mine; your's is better I believe ;)

Oh well, it was good practice.

Vooligan
November 28th 2009



3541 Comments


Nice, man. You're a reviewing machine lately.

Ponton
Emeritus
November 28th 2009



5790 Comments


I agree with you on Just Say Yes. Give Me Strength would have been a better single for this.

AtavanHalen
November 28th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No! C'mon babe, don't be like that. I wanna read it.

Thanks, Betty; I've been reviewing a lot lately. Got about five or six more to come for you lot before the end of the year. Considering posting my Axe to Fall review but fear castration

Vooligan
November 28th 2009



3541 Comments


Haha, i'll be on your side, Converge ain't my thing at all.

Ponton
Emeritus
November 28th 2009



5790 Comments


I don't know man, you probably wouldn't like it haha. I give the whole thing a 2.5

I like the band, but I really think their first two albums are horrible, and the three new songs, excluding Give Me Strength, pull the whole compilation down.
The live editions of the songs aren't too good either.

taylormemer
November 28th 2009



4917 Comments


Considering posting my Axe to Fall review but fear castration

Just ensure it's not like ur CTTS review and you'll be ok.

Piglet
November 28th 2009



4653 Comments


indeedo teedo

Captain North
November 28th 2009



6784 Comments


Chasing Cars is always good. Eyes Open is easily their best album though.

CelestialDust
November 28th 2009



3155 Comments


sweet review, i've only heard some singles from this band

this selling for 15 bucs on amazon... seems like a really good deal for 30 songs

Ponton
Emeritus
November 28th 2009



5790 Comments


I changed my mind; I think I will post mine to give a second opinion, but I'll wait until later today.

I second Eyes Open for the best, though Final Straw is not far behind.

LepreCon
November 28th 2009



3954 Comments


Aren't they more Northern Irish than Scottish? Anyways good review, I have a passing interest in these guys

Digging: Overkill - White Devil Armory

Romulus
November 28th 2009



8423 Comments


This is one of those bands that I figure might be decent but I'm scared of cause my friends like them. This and Death Cab.

Ponton
Emeritus
November 28th 2009



5790 Comments


Both this band and Death Cab have some great stuff though. They are well worth looking into.

LepreCon
November 28th 2009



3954 Comments


I prefer these guys to Death Cab

Altmer
November 28th 2009



5652 Comments


compilations are useless

Ponton
Emeritus
November 28th 2009



5790 Comments


I think I do too. I really love Eyes Open. It has a 4.5 from me.



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