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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 December 2006, 17:54 GMT
Snow Patrol's uneasy seat on top
Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody
Snow Patrol have been criticised for their live presence
Musically sophisticated with a popular touch or a bland symbol of the moribund charts? Snow Patrol has divided critics and music fans alike.

The Celtic rockers have shifted 1.3m copies of Eyes Open, and spent 35 weeks in the album charts, but still face a mixed reception.

The quintet's rise has not been stellar, with years of negligible sales and being dropped by their record company.

Snow Patrol were first formed as Shrug, then Polar Bear, in 1994 at Dundee by university friends Gary Lightbody and Mark McClelland, both from Northern Ireland.

They have produced four albums, but only the last two have found mainstream success.

After 1998's Songs For Polarbears and 2001's When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up they were dropped by label Jeepster.

Grammy nomination

But spearheaded by the single Run, 2003's Final Straw peaked at three and spawned four top 40 singles in the UK.

But it is Eyes Open which has seen them achieve international success, with chart success in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand as well as US, Australia, Canada and Germany.

Snow Patrol at the American Music Awards
Snow Patrol's success has translated to the US

They have also achieved the milestone of having their songs used on US TV shows, most notably Chasing Cars grabbing a Grammy nomination after featuring in the season finale of the hit medical drama Grey's Anatomy.

And in the UK, while the year lacked releases of original material from the leviathans of music like U2 and Oasis, they still beat the darlings of the indie scene The Arctic Monkeys.

Their heightened profile has been met with a mixed critical response.

Neil McCormick in the Daily Telegraph said the album was "epic in its sonic architecture, intimate at its emotional core, this is the real sound of 21st-century rock", while The Independent's Andy Gill dismissed it as "relentlessly mediocre".

'Giant disembodied hand'

Kitty Empire in The Observer likened one of their concerts to "a giant disembodied hand, drumming its fingers, wiping a tear now and again".

The band themselves have admitted they are surprised by their rise to multi-platinum success.

At a recent concert in London, lead vocalist Gary Lightbody said: "We never ever, in our wildest dreams, thought we'd be playing Wembley Arena."

Concert reviewers have claimed the band lack stage presence, with Lisa Verrico in the Sunday Times describing them as "mild mannered" and saying they need to "flex some rock-god muscles".

Snow Patrol will have time to practice their stadium technique, with the first half of 2007 taken up with touring the US and Japan.

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