After several solid albums in the UK, Snow Patrol gets some US attention with their breakout album, "Final Straw." Their melancholy rock'n'roll has a sort of chilly, late-autumn sound and a lot of songs about falling-out with lovers, but avoids being the cliched, whiny album about The End of the Band Leader's Relationship.
"Run" serves as the most polished, radio-oriented song -- smooth and vaguely Coldplayish -- but songs like "Run" and "Spitting Games" take a different tack: More rough indie-rock with some wicked basslines and a solid rhythm. The most musically rich song is "Ways and Means," a magnificent, slow-grinding song that includes violins, synths and cymbals.
Snow Patrol don't really forge any new paths into the world of rock music. Most of their songs are rooted in gritty indie-rock bands, as well as some classics like Pink Floyd. But they do have a solid, engaging style, in the form of a "message": Gary Lightbody seems to be asking his lovers to please, please, PLEASE understand him.
The songs almost border on dance music sometimes -- some strings, barely-restrained chugging guitars, solid basslines and the occasional lovely roll of electronic sound serve to contrast the melancholy tone. Not to mention delicate touches like strings, which also polish up the edges.
It seems a little weird to have such musically upbeat instrumentation while singing about being drenched in the rain. But it saves "Final Straw" from being yet another mopey pop album about The End of the Relationship, but not so perky that it becomes annoying.
Gary Lightbody's vocals sometimes get buried under the drums; they are best highlighted in songs like "Run," where the sound is lower-key. Snow Patrol's guys do need a bit of serious help with some of the songwriting. "My heart is bursting in your perfect eyes/ As blue as oceans and as pure as skies." While these songs have an earnestly sweet quality, it can't be denied that the writing is pretty banal.
"Final Straw" is a solid album, but it leaves one with the impression that Snow Patrol can -- and probably will -- do even better. While this bittersweet breakout is destined to be quite popular, it probably deserves it.