Generally speaking, I’m not a `greatest hits’ guy. Every great artist is worth more than the sum of his singles, and some don’t even really have any so-called hits of which to speak. But then again, there’s something to be said for a finely sequenced, comprehensive compilation of sorts. One could easily argue that New Order’s Substance is as essential as their studio albums, and likewise one could say the same of Louder Than Bombs alongside The Smiths’ four full-length efforts. Then again, some artists are better served by a well-edited sampling of their works. Guided by Voices’ unwieldy and obscenely extensive discography was filtered into a perfectly digestible anthology on Human Amusements at Hourly Rates. And as much as I like A Rush of Blood to the Head, at some point every essential Coldplay song will be found on a single disc.
Snow Patrol, five albums and 15 years deep into their career, are just such a band that would stand to benefit from a concise career retrospective. In fact, they’re somewhat similar to Coldplay in that both groups have had their share of solid mainstream singles. Snow Patrol is nowhere near Coldplay’s level of fame, however, but “Chocolate” and “Chasing Cars” had their moments of ubiquity. Furthermore, lesser known singles like “Spitting Games” or even some of their pre-major label Jeepster tracks would serve to make an abridged version of the Snow Patrol story a more interesting one. A casual listener would likely be satisfied with a 12 to 18 track `best-of,’ which is usually the point. Instead, however, we get Up to Now, a 30-track, two-disc collection that piles up more Snow Patrol than anyone could ever need, let alone want.
Within Up to Now, somewhere, there’s a decent singles compilation. There are the aforementioned hits, including “Chocolate,” “Spitting Games,” “Chasing Cars,” “Run” and “Hands Open,” which actually kind of sucks, but in all fairness I suppose it belongs here. There are also some additional gems, like “Set the Fire to the Third Bar,” a duet with Martha Wainwright that has recently been featured in commercials to the latest romantic weepie “Dear John.” Chances are, that probably sucks too, but the song’s not half bad. From there, however, it gets messy. There doesn’t seem to be any logical explanation as to why there should be two versions each of “Run” and “Chasing Cars,” nor why there needs to be a rough, BBC session cover of “Crazy in Love.” And there’s also no reason why more than half of Eyes Open is represented.
There’s a strong argument for Snow Patrol having a decent singles collection, but this isn’t it. There’s too much filler, too many new songs tacked on as an afterthought, and just, simply, too much. I could argue over what should be added or removed, but then again, it’s probably best just to put on Final Straw and be done with it.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.