2004 gave us a lot of great music by The Killers, Katie Melua, Keane, My Chemical Romance Stereophonics and U2, but there’s one other. Snow Patrol released Final Straw in 2003, selling 20,000 by word of mouth. The band then re-released the record the following year, adding a further two songs.
Final Straw is actually the bands third studio album, having released Songs for Polar Bears and When It’s All Over We Still Have To Clear Up in 1998 and 2001 respectively. Fame only reached the band with the third release, which of features Run, Chocolate and Grazed Knees.
Opening the album is How To Be Dead, a slow starting but confident song that sets a somewhat strong path for the following songs. It has a great composure too, with varying dynamics all the way though, something I really appreciated when listening to the album for the first time. Wow follows, and introduces a slightly heavier sound with a slightly distorted tone throughout. It was almost experimental but a risk payed off, with a similar effect in Whatever’s Left which comes after Gleaming Auction.
While I’m not too sure what to make of Gleaming Auction, I swiftly move on and continue through to Spitting Games; one of the more prominent songs on offer. Everyone knows the intro and instantly you’re hooked. It’s in your face, in a kind way, but welcomes you in with lyrics that are a little creepy – “I broke into your house last night, I left a note by your bedside…”. But the hook continues and, well I certainly find myself coming back for more.
For me, this was the my first Snow Patrol album and it was the next song that had me, and it has nothing to do with it’s name. Chocolate is a simple song, but has a great build at the start. A nice guitar riff, accompanied by a xylophone of all choices, sets a really gentle mood after Spitting Games. The general mood of this song is that you’ve had your last chance to make things better with someone and the final lyric of the song, “I promise I’ll do anything you ask… this time” sums it up.
Straight on from Chocolate is Run, which again, everyone knows. It was covered by Leona Lewis after she won the X-Factor, in what I thought was a ruining performance but one which payed off for the band who’s sales rocketed since, pushing the album further than their earlier two. It features a predictable solo at the end and a soft outro which is equally as predictable but it works and I like it.
Grazed Knees is one of my other favourites on the album, being a slow and calm song; a song that’s reasonably relaxing with a great use of instruments featuring strings too, adding a great texture. Small guitar licks every now and then offer another soothing feel to the song but it is soon replaced by a rather irritating introduction to Ways and Means. It’s slightly improved by the addition of guitars, but then awful lyrics and a lack of melodic vocals ruin the song. The chorus is another story, being quite adventurous and exciting; just the rest of the song is pretty dismal.
Tiny Little Fractures is a fun little song, it’s catchy and has all the right elements. For anyone who enjoys a good foot tap, this is a song for you. The deeper levels of the song feature synth instruments that if you pick them out, work in a really strange way.
Somewhere a Clock Is Ticking and We Can Run Away Now They’re All Dead And Gone, yes the title of the song really is that bloody long, begin to wind the album down with some kind of boring songs, before Half The Fun finishes the album on what I’d call a lowpoint.
Keeping the middle couple of songs and you have a cracking release, but I have to admit how I think it was down to Leona Lewis’ version of the Run that really sold the band.