Snow Patrol- Final Straw (A&M)
review by Derek Perduta

Track Listing

1. How To Be Dead
2. Wow
3. Gleaming Auction
4. Whatever’s Left
5. Spitting Game
6. Chocolate
7. Run
8. Grazed Knees
9. Ways & Means
10. Tiny Little Fractures
11. Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking
12. Same

This third offering by Snow Patrol, Final Straw, is my introduction to the band. Hailing from the U.K. and most probably shunned by mainstream US media outlets I’m not surprised I didn’t catch wind of them earlier. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I popped it into the disc player.

What I found was a pleasing collection of pop tracks, deserving of heavy rotation at any college radio station and a goodly number of ‘mainstream’ stations. Nearly every track has in it’s forefront a catchy guitar riff, with lyrics that would describe so many failing relationships. If these songs are autobiographical, I don’t envy singer Gary Lightbody’s experiences.

For some, so many tracks of love gone bad can be too much, myself included. However, the well crafted lyrics married to music that kept me nodding along throughout made it impossible to not enjoy. Gary’s smooth, unassuming vocals I found refreshing – his presentation is honest and bared to all. Snow Patrol have a sound here that just works in so many ways – and I think this shows in that there are several tracks that would make great singles.

The opening track, ‘How To Be Dead’, immediately pulls you into the pop charm that they are so good at on Final Straw. The lyrics are certainly about a man in the ‘dog house’, perhaps undeservedly as the last verse starts with ‘Please take it easy, it can’t all be my fault. I haven’t made half the mistakes that you’ve listed so far…’. Oh, how many men have felt that? ‘Grazed Knees’ begins in the frigid expanse of some woman’s wrath, but ends with a clever indifference that men can do so naturally with the lyric: ‘Just say you love me now, And forget this whole row. Just save your energy for making up with me.’ Right on brother – lets just get to the making up part. Men, aren’t we great? ‘Gleaming Auction’ goes right into ‘Whatever’s Left’, at first I thought it was one song until I read along with the lyrics. The music is nearly seamless and ‘Whatever’s Left’ is lyrically a continuation of the previous track. This duo contains the great line ‘Just because you were right before, doesn’t mean you’re right.’ These are just a sampling of the excellent lyrics sung here.

There are a few tracks that deviate from the template used on the rest of this album. The track ‘Run’ is uplifting, with an ‘everything will be alright’ feel. ‘Spitting Game’ made me thing of a stalker in the making, though more likely it is about the nervous awkwardness (sometimes) of making that first move in talking to a woman for the first time. Then there is the track called ‘Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking’. Clearly this song is on a different plane than the rest of the album. It is a powerful track with a serious dark overtone, with a lyric partly cryptic – perhaps referring to another relationship gone bad, or more likely about the unsettled climate in the world today, mainly the war in the Middle East. This song really rocks out towards the end with powerful drums accompanied by a string section, beautifully done.

Final Straw is a welcome set of tunes to these ears. Catching them on tour to see how the songs translate live will hopefully be as enjoyable as this studio release. Maybe I’ll have to check out their new live DVD…

Snow Patrol official Website:

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