036: Frightened Rabbits – Pedestrian Verse
This is a guest post from the inimitably impassionate Meghan. She’ll be bring us regular updates on the music-world with a Left Coast take from her current home in Portland. To get your fill of music nonsense and passionate rants about New Girl, follow her on Twitter.
I thought it only appropriate to write my first HowManyBeards music blurb about a band that I have been friend-losing-ly obsessed with for the past three months. And this is no exaggeration. One of my friends actually installed an app on Google Chrome that automatically blocks any of my posts with the words “Frightened Rabbit,” “Frightened Rabbits,” “Frabbit,” or “Frabbits” from his news feed, and replaces them with photos of cats.
That being said – this week, Glasgow, Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit released their highly anticipated full length album Pedestrian Verse. During the days approaching its release, I scoured the internet for any and all reviews I could find, with most critics being receptive, but many fans claiming it was “over produced.” Knowing that this would be their first release on major record label, Atlantic after years on the UK’s FatCat Records, I found myself full of anxious nerves. But on the early Monday morning when Pedestrian Verse hit the internet streaming, it only took five seconds of the gorgeous piano opening of “Acts of Man” to know there was never a reason to doubt Frabbits (insert photo of cat here).
Being fourth on a roster of extremely powerful and diverse records, front man Scott Hutchison noted the fact that Pedestrian Verse was the first collaborative writing effort by the full band, giving it a sense of familial charm. An apparent carryover from the loved qualities of old records, especially their best received Midnight Organ Fight, is the juxtaposition of dark, often ironic lyrics with what appear to be joyful beats. “Backyard Skulls” tells the story of unburiable suburban secrets while “Dead Now” talks quite literally about dying through lines like “I’m dead now, can you hear the relief/As life’s belligerent symphony’s finally ceased.” On both tracks, darkness is masked behind shoe-stomping drum arrangements and uptempo slews of melodies. While I find “State Hospital” to be the most powerfully lyric-driven track on the album, “Nitrous Gas” steps in as the most heartfelt (really, damned gorgeous!) while reflecting a sad soul in simple need of some laughing gas.
An overall wonderful record, Pedestrian Verse is fluttered with the most endearing Scottish accents, vocals begging for empathy, and a new “fresh” sound for the band as a whole. While Midnight Organ Fight may hold that special place in the hearts of die hard Frabbits (meow) fans as their most raw and honest, this one opens up a broader and more all-encompassing sound. Some may call it over-production, I’ll have to stick with my gut. Frightened Rabbit set new goals, and reached them without falter. Pedestrian Verse echoes artistic maturity through the fearless and successful recreation of a sound that was already working. Pedestrian Verse leaves me nothing short of angst-free about the future surprises and perfections of my favorite Scottish musicians.
Check out the music video for “The Woodpile”: