by Andrew Miller

Snow Patrol

Monday May 3

Berbati's Pan

10 SW 3rd

With its winter-fresh name and frozen-tundra album titles (Songs for Polar Bears), Snow Patrol appears to be yet another ice-encased Icelandic act. Its subtle, shoegazing symphonies--feedback-fuzzy in a cute-kitten way--seem to solidify such suspicions, given that Iceland's alternative acts traditionally turn unorthodox instrumentation into relatively accessible and indescribably appealing compositions.

But initial impressions can occasionally lead perusers astray, playing tricks on their eyes and juxtaposing letters to confirm conceptions. Snow Patrol actually hails from Ireland, though it eschews the melodramatic material of that country's most popular exports. And it records for Jeepster, Belle and Sebastian's famously fey longtime homebase, though it rocks with more vigor than any of its labelmates. Gary Lightbody sings with impressive control and clarity, but he doesn't flex his vocal muscles, even when the guitars start to swell during the distortion-drenched choruses.

2004's Final Straw feels like a break-up album, but without the creepy stalker-style pledges of unwanted devotion or misogynistic bitterness that brand many similarly themed offerings from domestic emo acts. Even during broken-hearted laments, Lightbody sounds as if he's the one who's ready to console, like he's just role-playing for the benefit of lovelorn listeners. In a final show of semantic sleight of hand, Snow Patrol's sound could best be described as warm.