IN AN alternate universe, Snow Patrol never write their defining hit Chasing Cars and, frustrated by being stuck in indie’s mid-table, put down the guitars, shake the overwrought emotion, and reinvent themselves into a more daring and convincing electro-pop outfit than Coldplay have ever managed to be.

That didn’t happen, of course, and we can hardly run the experiment again, but although the Irish/Scots outfit have never seemed to shun Chasing Cars as a Sit Down/Shiny Happy People-style albatross, maybe it would have been better if the alternate universe had won. Instead, they rode that song’s wave for a while, fell foul of the law of diminishing returns, and now emerge from a seven-year hiatus with a reinvigorated mindset but, sadly, not a reinvigorated sound.

Almost three-quarters of a decade out of action, during which frontman Gary Lightbody – part New Lad, part tortured poet – went through depression, alcohol problems and crippling self-doubt, should really have provided the basis for a more electrifying and affecting album than Wildness.

York Press:

Snow Patrol: "Trying far too hard to be enigmatic"

Instead, this is a record where the clue really isn’t in the name. Lightbody still strives to connect big wordplay to everyday life, but where his lyrics once struck a reasonable balance between hit and miss, here he just sounds either out of practice or to be trying far too hard to be enigmatic.

As for the music, Wildness chiefly sticks to the template of bland-but-effective-if-you-like-that-sort-of-thing indie-rock that’s defined Snow Patrol for as long as most of us have known them. Heal Me, Don’t Give In and Life On Earth could have been made at any time in their career, while A Dark Switch, for all its foreboding title, is one of the least interesting songs they’ve ever been responsible for.

Only Empress and Wild Horses suggest a band with genuinely renewed zest and hunger, while you would have to have a heart of granite not to be moved by Soon, Lightbody’s gentle tribute to his dementia-suffering father. Really, though, it’s as if Snow Patrol have never been away – and the overriding dullness of Wildness means that can’t be taken as a compliment.

Snow Patrol play Leeds First Direct Arena on January 29 2019