A Hundred Million Suns
Thu, Oct 30, 2008 (midnight)
For an album with such a high-wattage title, the follow-up to the multiplatinum-selling Eyes Open comes off a little dim. It’s massive, certainly, and even moderately gassy, but despite generally upbeat lyrics, Suns fails to generate any significant artistic heat.
Preferring to stick with tried-and-true songwriting formulas (“sensitive” + “deep” = a slew of soundtrack appearances), Gary Lightbody & Co.’s latest operates in exactly two modes: radio-ready anthem and earnest ballad. Catchy choruses and dense arrangements pervade, yet without a little more variety to break up the prevalent interplanetary references, each subsequent display of alt-rock guitar runs becomes less distinguishable than the last. As a whole, Suns borders on being too epic in scope, and with the exception of the comparatively harder, defiant “Take Back the City” and sickly sweet piano swooner “Crack the Shutters,” there’s not much territory that forerunners Coldplay haven’t previously mined. Even 16-minute, three-movement closer “The Lightning Strike” ultimately blends into the unfocused, mid-tempo blur.
On second thought, “The Golden Floor,” a hushed and haunted shadow of a song somehow reminiscent of Elliott Smith, is a blip of brilliance that’s nearly overpowered by the colliding bodies surrounding it. But by the time it registers as a bright spot, things have imploded inward, taking any shimmer of hope for truly bigger things with them.