Friday, February 25, 2011

Albums2010 #35: Final Straw

How do you describe Snow Patrol? I listened to this album and decided that if such a thing were possible, it might be slightly beyond me. I guess they're sort of distant cousins to Coldplay and Keane- that sort of dreamy, piano-y Britpop that emerged in the early 00s. But the more you listen, the more you realize that they seem pretty emo. There's a touch of Dashboard Confessionals thrown in there for good measure. They're not dreamy piano wailers like Coldplay or Keane, yet they're not channeling too much eyeliner and teen angst like Dashboard.

So they're a bit of a puzzle. But that doesn't mean that they're incapable of making a good album. Sure, on Final Straw you find all the trimmings: angst, relationship drama, love, etc, but it's not whiny- there's a certain maturity to the lyrics that combines with a maturity of sound. What do I mean by that? Well, again, I think with a lot of these reviews I just make up some bullshit because it sounds like something you'd find in Rolling Stone or Entertainment Weekly. (Yeah, I just copped to that, kids. Sorry.) But let me take a crack at my original point: in a very real sense, this is emo for grown-ups, all the way through and through. The sound is big, orchestral, bombastic and from time to time, angry and driving. But there's also moments of delicacy thrown in as well. The lyrics match the sound nicely. This isn't a band singing about death and love sucking or whining about pale and empty life is: real life relationship drama provides the sparks to the lyrics and the sounds and it feels all so refreshingly, adult.

Most people- like myself, were probably introduced to them through a couple of random episodes of Grey's Anatomy- with 'Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking' and the other song, 'Chasing Cars' which is on their next album. Interestingly enough though, the band hails from Northern Ireland but struck it big while at University in Scotland- and had made two albums before releasing this one. Hence, the title: Final Straw was seen by many as their last roll of the dice- and I have to admit, if you're going to make one last roll of this dice, this was a glorious roll to make. This is a complete, mature, album- with a big, big sound and the band shows a refreshing ability to switch between big sounds and more delicate sounds that gives the album a lot of range.

Overall: A happy cross between emo angst and dreamy Britpop, Snow Patrol crafts a sound all it's own and owns it hardcore. I'd say, if you want to have a nice, mellow catharsis for a bad relationship, then Snow Patrol is the band for you!

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