Frightened Rabbit - State Hospital [EP]
Major label. Words that instantly strike fear and panic into the hearts of music fans when mentioned in the same breath as your beloved favourite band. Last year's self released A Frightened Rabbit EP went a long way to dispelling any fears Frightened Rabbit fans may have had over the band's new start on Atlantic. With State Hospital the Scottish five piece will completely banish any worry that still lingers amongst even the most difficult to please and hardened of fans.
You will have already heard the brilliant title track 'State Hospital'. At this juncture it should also be added if you've not yet seen the video to the track, this is worth remedying (it can be found here) as it's one of most affecting music videos of the past couple of years. The track itself is the one song on the EP that will be on the band's fourth record due next year. It's Frightened Rabbit at their anthemic and uplifting best. Polished, atmospheric and gigantic sounding it's a world away from the raw early days of the band but this gradual evolution has suited them perfectly.
Frightened Rabbit have always excelled at creating music that people can relate to. Theoretically such a simple concept: in practice as many a band will testify to, a great deal more difficult. When playing 'Boxing Night' live earlier in the year Scott confessed it was written when he was at a particularly low point, "Glasgow could burn to it's timber tonight / I'd barely blink an eye," writing it on Boxing Day soon after a break up. He admits himself it has much in common with some of the aesthetic and songwriting on The Midnight Organ Fight and it's hard to disagree. Folky, gentle guitars and deeply personal, honest and evocative song writing. It's heart wrenching stuff, perfectly capable of tearing you to pieces if you've been through something similar of late. Elsewhere the versatility of the band is abundantly clear; 'Home From War' is defiant, ballsy pop whereas 'Off' is a sparse and fragile affair.
Although there are echoes of The Midnight Organ Fight, at least on 'Boxing Night', the EP does mark a new chapter in the life of Frightened Rabbit, not only in terms of what label they're on but more significantly, the songwriting process. Scott for this first time is now not only writing about his own struggles but the lives of others. He has always been a masterful storyteller, lyrically incredibly astute, but this new development illustrates that he is capable of being just as profound when dissecting the lives of others. On this evidence there are few better lyricists than Scott Hutchison.
From one great Scottish song writer to one of the undoubted best. Aiden Moffat makes a welcome spoken word appearance on 'Wedding Gloves' which again sees Scott writing in the third person, a husband and wife's deteriorating relationship this time the focus. It's a marked departure from anything they've done previously; disconcerting and in places down right creepy. It's an admirable and startling change of direction but one that works incredibly well.
Those major label worries are looking a bit foolish now are they not? Album soon now please chaps?