esus. Another album about how some sad guy royally screwed up his dysfunctional relationship. Well boo-fucking-hoo matey. There are few things worse than wallowing in your own stupidity. Like wallowing in someone else’s. That’s why Final Straw is so remarkable. You’re knee-deep in alpha-sadster Gary Lightbody’s super sucking love life—he should consider getting a "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" sign over his bedroom door—but it bears wonderful fruit. You want him to make further bumblingly foolish man mistakes to gain more fodder for his achingly gorgeous hand wringing since Lightbody’s penance is our gift.
But don’t get the wrong idea. This third outing for the Patrol (and major label debut) is not a maudlin weeper. Its powerful spiky tone belies the lyrical sentiment, a bouncing yang to a depressed yin, giving the perfect balance of emotive content without heavy-handed browbeating. Add to this the fact that Lightbody has the definitive fuck-me voice—his warm whispers could turn on a love light luminous enough to safely land a plane.
Opening with the gradual creeping build of "How to Be Dead" which seeps seamlessly into "Wow"'s chugga-chugga guitar driving its paradigm shifting eureka relationship moment of “if it looks like it works, and it feels like it works, then it works.”
Further hijinks ensue on "Chocolate" with its stop/start pacing and twanging solos. It’s one of those "I-screwed-someone-else-but-I-am-only-25-and- I-am-scared-of-the-love-I-feel-please-forgive-me" tunes with an imploring “on my knees I think clearer” grovel backed up by the promise of “I’ll do anything you ask”—and the all important coda—“this time.”
Handclaps, feel-good yeah yeah yeahing and a moog-soaking is in total contradiction to the lamenting frustration of someone proving their love by standing in a rain-drenched t-shirt on "Tiny Little Fractures"; the yippy drum rolls presumably representing the voice of whomever is on the receiving end of this outburst. Finally the raw tenderness of "Run" should not be listened to in public—unless openly weeping in front of colleagues or commuters is not a concern.
What is most endearing about this work is its universality. The drama, the shitty relationship, the compromises, the cross-purpose communication and utter helplessness one feels in the twilight moments of love’s demise are all represented here. The fact that the music, vocals and melodies are stunning is just icing on the cake—a cake that is crumbling before your eyes.
Reviewed by: Lisa Oliver
Reviewed on: 2003-09-08