It is hard to escape the familiarity of Gary Lightbody‘s voice, but Tired Pony feels like more than his side project. The band members and the presence of companion-producer Jacknife Lee are just too impressive. But calling their album The Place We Ran From a country album is not too satisfactory as well. Although it seems that Gary intended his songs, written while touring with Snow Patrol, to be so. Maybe little country songs, like comparing a pony to a horse.
However, the acoustic guitars, the slide guitars, a bit of violin and banjo are sufficient to distinguish most of the work from what we’ve generally known from mr. Lightbody in Snow Patrol-disguise. The small step from a reindeer (section) to a (tired) pony. And it does express a certain fascination with a romantic country side of the USA.
But at the same time there is undeniably a great similarity with Snow Patrol’s work in the overall production, and certainly the instrumentation and lyrics of part of the album. And Get On The Road very actively reminds me of Set The Fire To The Third Bar (a great compliment). Tom Smith’s voice then is so overwhelming and present that The Good Book could have been a native Editors song, certainly given Editors’ recent sound expansions (like the acoustic Raw Meat).
Snow Patrol‘s new album, A Hundred Million Suns, shows all of the strengths of these great musicmen. (a) It has the overall, familiar SP sense of intimacy, (b) with still some great, vintage radio hit songs and (c) above all a silent, but clear artistic evolution towards a broader spectrum in the closing 15 minutes, three-part song The Lightning Strike.
I had to play it loud however to really feel the album, to get all the enlightening background sounds and effects, the intimate detail voices and the acoustic guitars gently embracing the electrical riffs.
Maybe, just maybe, it misses a song like Run, that still gets me in tears. Although e.g. Lifeboats certainly also gets to me. And of course, a duet of the upmost emotional tension with a great female singer like Martha Wainwright cannot be repeated.
The connection with Bloc Party‘s newest pearl is not only the element of Intimacy but also the producer: Jacknife Lee. And, not to forget, the fact that both records are brilliant (like >100.000.000 suns). So far for the similarities between the 2 works of recording.
Bloc Party has not just explored new electronic horizons. They’ve seemlessly integrated it into their already distinct songs and sound. Looping, sampling, repetitive voices sound as if they’ve always been there. I love it, but I still have a slight preference for the more rock oriented Weekend In The City.