Remember how a few days after getting your first glow stick, the stunningly curious nuclear shine of the toy became a boring, sub-firefly-worthy illumination? Well, Snow Patrol isn't much different from that experience. Final Straw
, the Scottish quartet's latest record, is an über
-polished collection of alternative pop songs that reels you in immediately. Its 12 tunes pit stadium-beefy guitar anthems ("Run" and "Whatever's Left") against electronic- and string-tinged atmospherics ("Chocolate" and "Grazed Knees"). Mining the vogue of everyone from U2 to Coldplay, and the tried-and-true, albeit temporarily forgotten, pop punch of Eddie Money and Journey, the sugary hooks beget even catchier hooks, but you get the sense that turning these songs into elevator Muzak wouldn't be much of a stretch.
Singer Gary Lightbody (familiar to some as the voice behind the Mogwai-and-Belle-&-Sebastian-membered Reindeer Section) is a velvety crooner, heart-sleeved and desperate for affection, or so his lyrics suggest. With consistently sappy lines like "You don't listen to me/ When I talk to the wall," from the record's opener, "How to Be Dead," Lightbody leads his mates through meticulously arranged compositions that always go to the perfect major chord after pausing for the perfect drum fill. But these are songs that blow their wads immediately, stealing from the listener the pleasure of discovering their genius. After a second or third listen, they pretty much stop glowing.