After finally achieving success with their previous album, Eyes Open, Snow Patrol set out to balance between their newfound accessibility and a desire to break past all creative barriers. “Take Back the City” crackles with a tough pop-rock drive, singer Gary Lightbody channeling an urban energy and an ‘80s New Wave groove. The song’s obvious joy for living is more subtly weaved into the existential wallowing that haunts the space-themed tracks, “If There’s a Rocket Tie Me To It” and “The Planets Bend Between Us,” where Lightbody sounds less self-assured and more angst-ridden. “Lifeboats” uses a stereo-pan on Lightbody’s double-tracked vocals for a cool, disorienting effect. “The Golden Floor” evokes a spiritual dance with its tribal rhythm and dark keyboards. Recorded in both the bucolic Irish countryside and the urban frenzy of Berlin, A Hundred Millions Suns brilliantly plays between the two worlds, offering moments of contemplation and chaos. Then there’s the 16-minute finale, “The Lightning Strike,” where three movements build to the end of the world, dancing to the joyous finish. Snow Patrol are unafraid of their grand ambitions.