Final Straw

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Final Straw
Studio album by
Released4 August 2003
RecordedFebruary 2003
StudioBritannia Row Studios
ProducerJacknife Lee
Snow Patrol chronology
When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up
Final Straw
Eyes Open
Singles from Final Straw
  1. "Spitting Games"
    Released: 15 September 2003
  2. "Run"
    Released: 26 February 2004
  3. "Chocolate"
    Released: 12 April 2004
  4. "Spitting Games (re-release)"
    Released: 12 July 2004
  5. "How to Be Dead"
    Released: 25 October 2004

Final Straw is the third studio album and major-label debut by British rock band Snow Patrol, released on 4 August 2003 in the United Kingdom and Ireland and in 2004 in the United States. The album is notable for bringing the band their first mainstream success outside of their native countries of Northern Ireland and Scotland. In the 14 months following its release, a total of 5 singles were drawn from it. It is the first album to feature lead guitarist Nathan Connolly and the last to feature bassist Mark McClelland.

The album was re-released in the UK in 2004 with two extra tracks,[1] before being exported to the U.S. (without the bonus tracks). The album was also released on SACD and DualDisc with 5.1 Surround mixes.[2]


The band's A&R representative Jim Chancellor explained the reasons for choosing rock producer Jacknife Lee to oversee the record by saying, "I wanted a record for them that was bigger and bolder and a lot different than their previous records. I wanted them to make a more of a rock album than an indie record."[3] Chancellor, Lee and the band chose fifteen songs to start working on out of an original pool of 24.[3] Critical to the new direction was Lightbody's development into a more rounded songwriter. "They played us some songs which were not indie. There were a couple of pop songs and then 'Run', which is an enormous emotional rollercoaster of a track," said Chancellor.

Recording and composition[edit]

During the first couple of weeks in the studio the band found it quite difficult to adapt from an 'indie'-oriented sound to a more commercially viable pop rock sound.[3] Producer Lee offered constructive suggestions about how to both simplify their songs and augment them with other sounds such as strings, and Snow Patrol proved very receptive to his advice.[3] According to Chancellor, "Some bands tend to be more defensive about what goes on in the studio. Snow Patrol weren't. They were very much like, 'Yeah, we really want to be successful this time.'"[3]

The lyrics, all written by Lightbody are about failing relationships and break-ups. They were inspired by his personal experiences. Quinn, his longtime friend, says that he knows who Lightbody sings about in those songs.[4] The lyrics deal with the themes of relationships and politics. Lightbody has said that his "finally learn[ing] to write a chorus" was the key to the album's success.[5]

Guitarist Nathan Connolly joined the band during the recording sessions. He did not contribute much, as the whole album had already been demoed. He commented that he found it easy to start writing and sharing his ideas with the rest of the band, as he had a good relationship with the band before being a member.[6] The album's music incorporates distorted guitar, feedback styles, and the vocals are gritty. The band's sound on the album was described as being a "cross between the sullen folk of Nick Drake and the more punchy rock moments of Simple Minds and the Pixies.[7] Reviewing the album, Pitchfork described the performances as being based around "rigid, unwavering tempos that approximate dance music," created through looped sections of playing augmented with electronics. The first song, "How to Be Dead", introduces this sound with extensive use of drum machine programming.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[9]
Blender4/5 stars[10]
Chicago Sun-Times3.5/4 stars[11]
Entertainment WeeklyA[12]
The Guardian3/5 stars[13]
Q4/5 stars[15]
Rolling Stone2/5 stars[16]
Slant Magazine3.5/5 stars[17]
Uncut4/5 stars[18]

Before repromotion of the album, sales hit 20,000 copies.[19]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Gary Lightbody; all music is composed by Gary Lightbody, Mark McClelland, Nathan Connolly and Jonny Quinn except where noted[20].

1."How to Be Dead"3:21
3."Gleaming Auction"2:04
4."Whatever's Left"2:39
5."Spitting Games"3:46
7."Run" (Iain Archer, Lightbody, McClelland, Connolly, Quinn)5:54
8."Grazed Knees"2:55
9."Ways & Means" (Archer, Lightbody, McClelland, Connolly, Quinn)4:47
10."Tiny Little Fractures"2:28
11."Somewhere a Clock Is Ticking" (Archer, Lightbody, McClelland, Connolly, Quinn)4:32
Japan / UK re-release bonus tracks
13."We Can Run Away Now They're All Dead and Gone"3:15
14."Half the Fun"2:54
iTunes bonus tracks
13."Post Punk Progression"3:23
DualDisc version bonus material
13."Chocolate" (video)3:43
14."Run" (video)4:20
15."Spitting Games" (video)3:52
16."Sessions@AOL: Interview"6:14
17."Sessions@AOL: Run"4:33
  • The AOL sessions feature frontman Gary Lightbody & lead guitarist Nathan Connolly being interviewed, and performing an acoustic rendition of "Run".
  • The dualdisc version does not include the UK bonus tracks.

In popular culture[edit]


Other personnel


Chart/provider(s) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)
Europe (IFPI)
Ireland Albums Chart (IRMA)[22] 1
UK Albums Chart (BPI)[22] 3
US Top Heatseekers (Billboard)[23] 1
US Billboard 200[22] 91


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[24] Platinum 70,000^
Ireland (IRMA)[25] 6× Platinum 90,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[26] 6× Platinum 1,800,000^
United States (RIAA)[28] Gold 618,000[27]
Europe (IFPI)[29] 2× Platinum 2,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "Album : Final Straw". Snow Patrol. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  2. ^ "Single : Signal Fire". Snow Patrol. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Interview With Jim Chancellor". HitQuarters. Oct 26, 2005. Retrieved 2010-06-29.
  4. ^ "That's Snow business". The Age. 25 July 2004. Archived from the original on 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
  5. ^ Heawood, Sophie (30 October 2009). "Snow Patrol: 'We're not ready for greatest hits'". The Times. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
  6. ^ Jurilj, Igor (4 August 2009). "Interview - Nathan Connolly (Snow Patrol)" (in Croatian). Muzika. Archived from the original on 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2009-10-01. - Note: Translation can be found here.[dead link]
  7. ^ Weingarten, Abby (3 September 2004). "Scotland's Snow Patrol jumps on gloom bandwagon". AccessMyLibrary. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2009-10-19. Appears as: "Using distorted guitar, feedback and gritty vocals, the band inserts lyrics with political and relationship themes." and "comprised of Gary Lightbody (songwriting, vocals, guitar and keyboards), Nathan Connolly (guitar), Mark McClelland (bass and keyboards) and Johnny Quinn (drums), Snow Patrol has a sound that's a cross between the sullen folk of Nick Drake and the more punchy rock moments of Simple Minds and the Pixies."
  8. ^ "Final Straw by Snow Patrol". Metacritic. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  9. ^ DiGravina, Tim. "Final Straw – Snow Patrol". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  10. ^ Duerden, Nick (April 2004). "Snow Patrol: Final Straw". Blender (25): 136. Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  11. ^ Vrabel, Jeff (2 May 2004). "Snow Patrol, 'Final Straw' (A&M)". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  12. ^ Vera, Marc (2 April 2004). "Snow Patrol: Final Straw". Entertainment Weekly: 66.
  13. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (1 August 2003). "Snow Patrol: Final Straw". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  14. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (1 April 2004). "Snow Patrol: Final Straw". Pitchfork. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  15. ^ "Snow Patrol: Final Straw". Q (207): 113. October 2003.
  16. ^ Wolk, Douglas (10 March 2004). "Snow Patrol: Final Straw". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 14 November 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  17. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (2 April 2004). "Snow Patrol: Final Straw". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Snow Patrol – Final Straw". Uncut (77): 130. October 2003. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  19. ^ Jelbert, Steve (13 February 2004). "The flaky success of Snow Patrol". The Times. Times Newspapers Ltd. Archived from the original on 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
  20. ^ "Final Straw". Snow Patrol. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  21. ^ "Music: Music from & Inspired By Gran Turismo 4 (CD) by Original Soundtrack". 2005-04-04. Archived from the original on 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  22. ^ a b c "Snow Patrol - Final Straw". aCharts. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
  23. ^ Chart position on Top Heatseekers[dead link]
  24. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2007 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  25. ^ "Irish album certifications – Snow Patrol – Final Straw". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  26. ^ "British album certifications – Snow Patrol – Final Straw". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 24 October 2019. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Final Straw in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  27. ^ "Brits Rock". Billboard.
  28. ^ "American album certifications – Snow Patrol – Final Straw". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 24 October 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  29. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 2008". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 24 October 2019.