Polydor - 2003 - 43 minutes

A title promising high drama or a cheeky cheerio in the direction of the label – Jeepster - they walked away from? Whatever your theory, Snow Patrol have some ground to make up.

Their last record, 2001's 'When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up', should have been bigger while singer Gary Lightbody's extra-curricular activities with music collective The Reindeer Section may have taken some of the focus away from his own band.

Not that people will forget what's on 'Final Straw' in a hurry. With an extra guitarist and a great sound from dance producer Jack Knife Lee, which brings out the ache in Lightbody's voice while also giving them a harder edge, the quartet offers up songs to make you either jump or mope around and on 'Spitting Games' even come up with their best pop song - so far.

As the spectacular 'An Olive Grove Facing the Sea' from the last album showed, Snow Patrol work best at their most fragile and here it's 'How to Be Dead', 'Run' and 'Grazed Knees' that again show just how great they can be when the tears well up.

This album is not a classic but anyone who hears it will not be let down. Just remember how much that counts for these days.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: How to Be Dead - Wow - Gleaming Auction - Whatever's Left - Spitting Games - Chocolate - Run - Grazed Knees - Ways & Means - Tiny Little Fractures - Somewhere a Clock is Ticking - Same