On its second album, Snow Patrol takes a significant leap forward in terms of artistry and vision. It was perhaps too easy to write the trio off as a sub-Belle & Sebastian combo after its debut, what with the aural similarities to that band and the fact that they were both on Jeepster. And the music here still has characteristically lush and gentle moments -- and still intermittently echoes their better-known labelmates ("Batten Down the Hatch," "On/Off") -- sometimes barely rising above a whisper, while the subject matter is dour and brittle as ever. Snow Patrol again dwells on bad dreams and heartbreak, regrets and one-night stands, tempering even the few rays of sunlight with wounded or downbeat thoughts. And on songs like the nightmarishly paced dirge "If I'd Found the Right Words to Say," the mood befits the content. But When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up breaks dramatically and sensationally with the cult of twee. It is not a subdued or stilted album, either musically or emotionally, which not only makes the band's melancholia palatable but also renders it substantial and genuine rather than affected. The music is still extremely tuneful, but songs such as "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again," "Last Ever Lone Gunman," and "One Night Is Not Enough" are truly guitar-driven things (occasionally with subtle electronics) that underscore a determinedness and passionate vitality often lacking in similar inclined approaches (including, sometimes, Belle). When "Black and Blue" abruptly transitions from barely there falsetto crooning to a grinding, overdriven guitar assault, it sounds like a call to arms. Rather than small and insular, the album is open, grand, and beautiful.
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AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart