Snow Patrol

Final Straw (A&M)

These scruffy Scottish lads understand that the gentle, Belle & Sebastian-like folk-pop on their first two albums tends to be a bigger hit with critics than with folks who actually purchase CDs at record stores. So for Final Straw, their hit-at-home third, they've muscled up their sound so it lands squarely in the crowded post-Radiohead field most Americans have explored through the gateway drug known as Coldplay. Fans addicted to that band's bombastic, heartfelt anthems will certainly get a kick out of Snow Patrol's "Run," a self-conscious epic of chiming guitars, hand-wringing strings and front man Gary Lightbody's soul-cleansing croon: "To think I might not see those eyes," he sings as a rush of blood goes to his head, "makes it so hard not to cry." "Run" is the obvious six-minute centerpiece, but the remainder of the solid, painterly Final Straw is of a piece: the chugging guitars that ramp up into the chorus of opener "How to Be Dead," the nifty falsetto ooohs at the top of "Spitting Games," "Chocolate"'s delicate glockenspiel tinkles. A&M's bio trumpets a reaction to Iraq; more likely, Lightbody just wants his band's rightful spot on The O.C.

 
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