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Snow Patrol: Songs for Polarbears Snow Patrol 
Songs for Polarbears
[Jeepster]
Rating: 8.1
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If a band's press kit were any indicator of merit, Snow Patrol would be one of the lamest bands in all creation. The press release opens with a claim that should not be made about anyone who is not Radiohead: "Snow Patrol are the most exciting guitar band in the U.K." When I hear that Thom Yorke blew his nose recently, it sends bolts of electricity down my spine. This is true of a great many people. Snow Patrol's PR should know this. My personal favorite error in this press kit is in reference to new Snow Patrol recruit Tom Simpson, who spins and plays keyboards at their live shows. It speaks of the "recent edition of Tom" rather than the recent addition of Tom. To be fair, maybe they did upgrade from Tom 3.1 to Tom 2000 recently. But probably not.

Thankfully, the prodigious musical ability of these three Irishmen propels them past the inauspicious first impression given by their press kit. Songs for Polarbears is an impressive piece of work, made doubly so when it's considered that this is only a debut. This fact is easily forgotten while wandering through the sheer breadth of mature songwriting featured on this album, to the tune of 19 full-length songs. Snow Patrol craft very British, very smooth, very coherent guitar-based music which runs the gamut from slow, serene melodies to token sentimental ballads to "please, kind sir, don't give me a wedgie" driving rock. No song has been as overtly British as the ironically titled "NYC" in some time. The track comes complete with the quasi-nonsensical repeated chorus lyric, "I am so too," which follows its quasi-agitating repeated verse lyric, "Is this on?" But it all works, somehow.

Snow Patrol seem to have an early death grip on many of the finer musical elements which seem to completely elude many other groups: the subtle, floating chorus in "The Last Shot Ringing in My Ears;" the witty, yet not juvenile song title in "Get Balsamic Vinegar... Quick You Fool;" the sing-along chorus that compliments a fast car and a sunny day perfectly in "Downhill from Here;" the brawl-inducing "Holy Cow;" even the hummed chorus in "Velocity Girl." The only miss on the album is "Absolute Gravity," with its incongruous turntable action, provided by none other than the recent edition of Tom.

So do we blame Snow Patrol for not being Radiohead? Of course not. Instead, we revel in the multifarious distorted guitar splendor offered on Songs for Polarbears and chide naughty record companies who let Ted from the mail room proofread their press kits. Snow Patrol are an exciting band who could deliver a magnum opus in the not-so-distant future at their current rate of improvement. Speaking of which, one more tip for the press kit makers: never again refer to the expansion of your band's fanbase as "Viral growth." You won't be likely to win many new converts.

-Taylor M. Clark

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