Frightened Rabbit

Pedestrian Verse

Written by: TL on 20/03/2013 18:59:43

You know how there are some bands that just appeal to you for so many different reasons, that while many of them would be insignificant on their own, when they all come together you just feel like there's no way you're not going to like whatever such a band puts out? Such a band for me are Frightened Rabbit, one of Scotland's finest indie-rock outfits, whom I really got into on their third album "The Winter Of Mixed Drinks", and whose great songs "Fuck This Place" and "Boxing Days" have carried me over while their corresponding EP releases kept my expectations for a follow-up album at bay. Having a thing for Scottish music, I of course love the heavy accent vocals of main man Scott Hutchinson, and being an indie-rock fan the band's ties in that genre of course tickles me as well, as does something inexplicable about their catchy little bandname.

So why, despite numerous attempts, can't I seem to like the band's new album "Pedestrian Verse" as much as I want to? Good question.

"Pedestrian Verse" marks the first time Hutchinson's bandmembers have joined him in a collaborative songwriting process, yet at first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that its sound is business as usual for Frightened Rabbit, and indeed, some things are the same. The band's instrumental side is still an eclectic, noisy indie-rock reminiscent of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or of contemporaries We Were Promised Jetpacks only in less of a hurry. The energy of the instruments are still anchored all the way down to earth, by Hutchinson's rambling melodies and pull-no-punches, The National-ish lyrics, which affords the overall product a loveable sort of gutter-romanticism.

Compared to "The Winter Of Mixed Drinks", it's not in catchyness the record lacks either, with at least half an album's worth of tracks again presenting themselves soon, as ones your mind will easily recognise upon returning listens: "Acts Of Man", "Backyard Skulls" and "Holy" form a potent opening trio, with especially the latter making an impression with quirky wordplay; " are you acting all holy? you're just full of holes!", and the up-beat "Late March, Death March" flashes the kind of chorus you want to shout along to at live shows.

As I cross the album's mid-section however, I consistently get the feeling that "Pedestrian Verse" just isn't as dramatic as "Winter Of Mixed Drinks". For all the band's persistent qualities, they've gone a different direction with the songstructures here, letting their experiments flow more freely, rather than fit them into the sort of sweeping moments I at least find on "Winter...". Consequently, I don't get those moments - those deft movements in composition - that re-summon my attention back from whichever distances it may wander, and sweeps me up in feeling that these lads are doing something captivating. Rather I feel like the closer I get to the end of the album, the more the songs appear to me individually like Death Cab For Cutie b-sides with Scottish vocals.

Considering who I'm comparing to, this is of course not an entirely bad thing, but it is part of me making sense of the fact that - even though I've grown to appreciate some of these songs and even though I sing along to them mindlessly when they come on - my initial reaction is continually one of wanting to run back to "Winter.." and put on the epic "Skip The Youth", or to "A Frightened Rabbit EP" to revisit the bitter melancholy of "Fuck This Place". I've read elsewhere that the critical reaction to "Winter.." was that it was good but a bit worse than its predecessor, and while I can't confirm or deny that - and while I would still heartily recommend Frightened Rabbit to anyone who would care to listen - I must report slightly disappointedly, that this is exactly the same feeling I get from "Pedestrian Verse".

Download: Holy; Acts Of Man; Late March, Death March
For The Fans Of: We Were Promised Jetpacks, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The National, Death Cab For Cutie, Wintersleep

Release Date 04.02.2013

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