• Jun : 16 : 2017 - SPOTLIGHT: FAR AWAY STABLES – New Album ‘Between Rage and Serenity’
  • May : 31 : 2017 - Eclipses for Eyes – POLARIS Album Review / Video
  • Feb : 4 : 2017 - STARSET – Live Photo Gallery
  • Aug : 19 : 2016 - SILVERSUN PICKUPS – Live Photo Gallery
  • Aug : 12 : 2016 - Spotlight: COLD SUMMER Release ‘Fight To Survive’ EP (Listen & Watch) [Post-Hardcore, Punk Rock]

Frightened Rabbit State HospitalFor fans of: The Swell Season, Fleet Foxes, Belle & Sebastian, Kings of Convenience

 

It is not often these days that the rock and roll fantasy becomes a reality. The state of the industry has shifted in such a way that established acts and doe-eyed beginners are often playing the same stages, leveled by the great equalizer of a fickle listening public. For a group like Frightened Rabbit, who went from announcing their e-mail address from the stage for those interested in a free copy of their demo (and sending out biscuits with the disc during lulls in demand, eternally endearing the group to most recipients) to supporting Death Cab for Cutie on various tours and being hand-selected by Belle & Sebastian to perform at the 2nd Bowlie Weekender festival, the dream has begun to become a reality.

 

Their current release, The State Hospital EP, comes in lieu of a full-length album scheduled for distribution next year and is chalk-full of the meandering stream-of-consciousness verse and sweeping themes we’ve come to expect from Scott Hutchison and company. This is, technically, the bands 6th release (and second EP); coming on the heels of 2011’s A Frightened Rabbit EP, available exclusively on the tour subsequent to the EP’s release. The album was released on September 25th, reaching #53 on the UK album charts and #163 in the US. There is a tangible evolution to the group’s sound on every record, and this release is no exception.

 

Personally I see the band’s 2008 release, The Midnight Organ Fight, as being as close to perfect as an album can get. Emotionally, lyrically and dynamically the record delivers in droves, layering irresistible waves of eloquence, rage and recriminations over a churning swell of organs and acoustic guitars. In and of itself, that creates an expectation that is exceedingly difficult to live up to. I’m unsure, as of yet, if the group has eclipsed that effort, but they have certainly not languished with their subsequent releases. Those albums tend to embody a more diffuse writing focus, exploring tones and sweeping sonic progressions more openly… more of a cascading rain than the lightning-bolt of Organ Fight.

 

The State Hospital EP expertly reclaims the sort of focus present on Organ Fight. Beginning with the album’s title track, “State Hospital,” the album manages to feel like a balloon being methodically filled. There’s a surge of energy that starts at the opening notes and pushes organically to the tune’s final chiming chord. The band expertly adds and removes elements from the mix, establishing a brilliant dynamic with a crushing gravity. My ears greedily leapt note-to-note like some musical Doodle-Jumper, finding vast purchase in the chorus line of, “Her heart beats like a breeze block thrown down the stairs, her blood is thicker than concrete / forced to be brave, she was born into a grave,” to spring from. The song’s final line of, “All is not lost,” spurs us further into the album on the auspices of completing the tale so eloquently spun in the introductory passage.

 

We are met with a frolicking acoustic guitar and kick drum at the onset of the next track. “Boxing Night,” is the perfect embodiment of a standard strength of Frightened Rabbit’s style, a joyous noise cloyed around melancholy sentiments. The energy is infectious as the song splays out before your ears, augmented by sustained bass notes and organ swells to create a full billowing range for the melody to ride on. The tune also continues the feeling of an ascending intensity for the album, a very effective element to ensnare a listener’s full attention. There is no lasting feeling of fruition from track to track, creating a prevailing cohesion of material.

 

It does this album a disservice to do anything less than print its entire lyrical content. Scott Hutchinson, the group’s principal songwriter, strings together Dylan-esque runs of dialogue so tongue-trippingly decadent that you’re amazed at the amassed meaning of each verse. You can nearly lose your footing if you aren’t following closely, as Scott’s brogue has a way of wrapping words in a different skin than we’ve seen them in. It is delightful to listen to for those phrases with a touch of the Scot (pardon the pun) in their blood.

 

“Home From War,” starts with a slow fade-in of feedback, but is quickly spurred into action by rolling drums, a driving bassline and tingling guitars. The organ again plays a significant role in beefing up the sound as we slide in and out of verses, and very effectively gives a sense of space to the soundscape. With this being the middle of the album, we feel as though we’re riding the wave at its crest. The line, “I might never be normal again, but who cares…” trembling as it’s delivered, lends a wistful air as a parting shot to the song.

“Off” begins with an expertly executed run of arpeggiated guitar and ethereal vocal stabs giving way to thumping bass and clanging of electric slide-guitar. There’s a wonderful pensive feel to the tune, which gives a sloping quality into the album’s final track, “Wedding Gloves.” Spoken-word lyrics, rubbery bass and gritty feedback create atmosphere, feeling much like the Pixies “La-La Love You.” The chorus opens into a falsetto melody, giving a great yin-yang quality to the song’s various components. The second chorus is spiced with discordant guitar notes bouncing in the background, leading into a phenomenal collaboration of the falsetto vocal and spoken word meeting on the second chorus. This song feels much like a spool unraveling, completing the feel of the album having ascended into “Home From War,” and descending out to “Wedding Gloves.” The care and consideration for the tonality and feel of the record shows a refined quality to the songwriting that bespeaks true mastery of the craft.

 

This was a stellar EP, and serves as a brilliant build-up to the band’s next full-length album. The songwriting is consistently expert and enthralling, promising a rival to the excellence of Organ Fight from their future release. It is absolutely worth a listen and the requisite dollar amount to procure a copy, and if you’re lucky perhaps a packet of biscuits to accompany it.

 

Related posts:

Comments:

Leave a Reply


Connect with AMPKICKER

Friends

  • OVG News - Gaming News You Need To Know
  • Whipping Post - Handmade Leather Goods for the Musician
  • Write For Ampkicker
  • Archive

  • Categories

  • Search

  • Links