I think the first Scottish pop bands I really fell for were The Wedding Present and Teenage Fanclub. That was almost fifteen years ago, I still love them, but with the semi-recent emergence of Belle and Sebastian and the Scots pop scene that has gathered around it (Reindeer Section, Arab Strap, etc.), a legitimate scene has emerged. I stumbled upon Snow Patrol a few years ago, listened to the album a bunch of times and then just kind of filed it away.
But, like the Super Furry Animals whose first few records were passably average, it was “Rings Around the World” the band’s fifth full length that finally matched talent with potential. The “Final Straw” is that record for Snow Patrol, carried largely on the silky vocals of Gary Lightbody, the band alternates between old school dreamy shoegazing rock and an almost Sebadoh kind of melodic punk. Unlike many bands to have recently made records that fall into this syrupy folky-pop niche, Snow Patrol can rock, and do occasionally.
But this record is very good, the songs all have great memorable hooks, and in a different world would even stand a chance on commercial radio. But as luck would have it the band will likely remain slightly hidden gems for the time being. They never bother to lapse into commercial accessibility the way they easily could, a la David Gray, but at some point I’m sure they trip themselves up and make that record that the world will love. I hope they do.