||The Place We Ran From
||12 July 2010
Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody introduces his latest troupe of minstrels on this minimalistic country-influenced album.
"Supergroup." Is there a music-related term that engenders more snorting and stamping of hooves? Possibly. "Concept-album" would be up there too. However, history has shown us that the super group has consistently only ever lived up to half of its supposed billing. As in,"Yes we are a group" but, "No, we are not super."
Here Lightbody teams up with luminaries such as REM’s Peter Buck, M Ward, Editors’ Tom Smith, Iain Archer and Belle & Sebastian’s Richard Colburn to deliver ten tracks of melodious confusion.
The main confusion, for me at any rate, is to why these songs were not released, if not by Snow Patrol themselves, then by his other band of rebels The Reindeer Section. I find this peculiar as none of the songs are in anyway alien to those produced by the aforementioned projects. Suffice to day, Tired Pony are not yet in possession of their own distinctive sound.
The album is sparsely arranged, and those who might be hoping that legendary axe-man Peter Buck would cut loose on this project, would be sadly disappointed to hear his very disciplined guitar, mandolin and banjo playing.
The highlights of the record occur in the harmonies of the stronger songs. 'Dead American Writers' the album’s first single, rolls beautifully to the dual vocal of Lightbody and Archer, as does 'Get on the Road' where Zooey Deschanel sings an octave above Lightbody to add real depth and purpose to the song.
Elsewhere the most overtly “country” song is sung by Iain Archer in 'I am a Landslide' which could be argued is the album’s most complete track. Too often however you feel as if you have been over this territory before. Lightbody, in many respects, is hamstrung by his own successes, as much is now naturally expected of anything he turns his hand to. Therefore without the driving, instantly hummable choruses you have a sense of being on a musical roundabout with no definitive destination.
That said, Snow Patrol fans are sure to love this record, as the formula remains largely unaltered. Those expecting fireworks and a departure to pastures new will have to wait for another day. For now at least, it seems that the place Gary Lightbody ran from, was the place he was all along.