How To Be Dead
The first track on the album, How To Be Dead, is a perfect opener and it shows how much this band has grown. They still have that alternative sound and they still use repetition, but it doesn’t sound awkward or loosely connected anymore. It sounds like one piece of music. And you know what, it sounds pretty great too.
Wow has an industrial character, and it drives on the fast tempo and Gary Lightbody’s angsty vocals. This song is all about its feel. The band creates a feel around the song that carries it and slowly draws you in. And after a couple of listens it gets sorta catchy, even.
I don’t think Gleaming Auction will ever be one of my favorite Snow Patrol songs, because I seem to grow tired of it from time to time. But essentially it is probably one of the better and more creative songs this band has ever written. Rhythmically it is a very tight song and it creates an interesting sound with some clever effects.
It takes a little while for the song to get to a point where it becomes interesting. “Final Straw” is a great album, but there are a couple of songs that just don’t reach the level this album generally displays. Whatever’s Left is one of those songs.
The catchy and uptempo Spitting Games is another highlight on this splendid album. The interaction between Gary Lightbody and the other band members is electric and there’s a weird sort of delicacy in this song. The higher tempo and the synthy lines in the song give it the pace it needs to come to life, but the underlying sense (best noticed in the vocals) has some kind of fragilty that makes this song very interesting, but most of all, very good!
The single, Chocolate, is a song that Snow Patrol can be proud of. It has a good format to do well on the radio and it shows the vocal strength of Gary Lightbody in all of its glory. It also shows that this band doesn’t necessarily has to go into the underground, more industrial feel, with driving guitars and energetic superspeed. Chocolate is a good example that Snow Patrol is capable of a more melodic, gentle side, and that they excell at that when they choose to go there.
Every band would kill to write a radio single like Run. You can see the millions of fans with lighters in their hands, girlfriends (with tears in their eyes) on their shoulders, singing along to this as a million-headed choir. It’s a perfect radio single and a perfect example that this band is here to stay.
Grazed Knees takes forever to get going, but on this song there are some wonderful vocal and instrumental harmonies and every little things is playing its part in the bigger whole. It’s not the most brilliant creation this band has given us, but it shows another side of them. The use of instruments that are a-typical for this band is also a very nice touch.
Ways & Means
There is a lot of mystique and sensuality in Ways & Means which gives this song an interesting feel. For a lot of people this might be a hit or miss. And that is not very surprising as it is quite a distinct song with a certain sound and feel. But musically and creatively there’s more to this song than a first listen reveals.
Tiny Little Fractures
Tiny Little Fractures sounds like a love child by U2 and Trent Reznor, and you know what, though I wasn’t convinced at first, this song is really growing on me, and I keep discovering tiny little new things in this song. Maybe not Snow Patrol in top shape, but absolutely a job well done.
Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking
Without a doubt the strongest piece on this album. The haunting vocals and the skillful music creates a very indie-like sound, sometimes symphonic rock-like, to later fall back onto a more minimal sound. It’s one of those songs where you can say: ‘Yes, that’s it!’
Same, for the most part, is a song based on keys and vocals. It once again shows how strong this band can be melodically and pure musically. It’s a great way to end this great album. In the past, Snow Patrol albums needed some time for me to really get into them, but “Final Straw” opens up a whole new audience for the band, as their music is so much more approachable and many more people will embrace their talent.
Bonus: We Can Run Away Now They’re All Dead And Gone
I was very surprised when I first heard this song. We Can Run Away.. has a bit of a late 60s/early 70s feel (think The Doors for example) to it (though there’s still a bit of underground influence (think 2nd Place Driver) in the song too), and is completely different compared to what the rest of the album sounds like. And frankly, I was surprised at how good this sounds.
Bonus: Half The Fun
The fast-paced indie-rocker Half The Fun shows Snow Patrol full throttle. The passionately performed song wouldn’t have been misplaced on the regular version of the album and the synth works really well with the fast tempo and general sound of the song.
With “Final Straw”, Snow Patrol claims their spot as one of the world’s best alternative bands. With glory. With cleverly crafted songs and inspiring lyrics and a diversity in sound and tempo, they show their creativity and musical superiority. They are here to collect on their talent. With super songs like Chocolate, Run, Spitting Games & Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking they ensured themselves of a bright and long future in the world of music. And we can only be grateful for that.