Here’s another LP that I’ve come to well after the hip cognoscenti and as is often the case it’s been one that has been dominating my listening for the last 2-3 weeks.
Despite the fact that they’ve been recommended to me by several people over the last few months (including this) I knew the name Frightened Rabbit for quite a while before I actually heard them (via a 6 track live EP on emusic). Getting a hold of that though provided the impetus for me to get their second LP ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’, released a couple of months back.
If there’s such a thing as the Scottish rock continuum then Frightened Rabbit sit squarely between the Twilight Sad and the more Celtic influenced Idlewild numbers , indeed ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ provokes (favourable) comparisons with American English. Lyrically they deal with not dissimilar preoccupations to former Arab Strap vocalist Aidan Moffat, principally sex.
At times they’re actually fairly anthemic although mass success may elude them whilst their choruses include the likes of ‘You’re the shit and I’m knee deep in it.” Which would be a pity since their raw, honest lyrics are one of things that makes them stand out from the crowd. But nobody’s going to get a good write up one here solely based on their words and the quality of the songwriting and the variety of their arrangements are also impressive.
In terms of the latter, the last couple of years have seen bands regularly expand on the 2 guitars, bass and drums set-up with the use of all sorts of instruments, perhaps influenced by the success of Arcade Fire. So you’ll find violins, brass, keyboards all deployed throughout, which is, let’s be honest, not exceptional in itself. But it’s the manner in which they do this that is so impressive. There’s a real vitality and range to their arrangements which is exceptional. As an example of this I’m particularly fond of ‘The Twist’ with its piano, sampled harmonies and circular keyboard riff.
My only minor gripe about the LP is that, despite the variety in the arrangements and instrumentation used, the production sounds a little homogenous throughout. It’s something that seems to be, in some ways, in vogue since R.E.M.’s ‘Accelerate’ suffered from the same problem although I suspect that the relative budgets of the 2 LPs were not exactly comparable.
However, it’s a minor gripe and ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ is all but certain to feature in the end of year MPT Top 10 LPs. If you don’t already know this then Frightened Rabbit are definitely a band to watch out for.