My Latest Novel left it too long between two – admittedly excellent – albums and the momentum they built up evaporated quicker than you could say ‘Caledonian Arcade Fire’.
Aberfeldy shed members at an alarming rate and the follow-up to 2004′s folk-pop classic Young Forever was something of a dud.
De Rosa called it a day before last year’s Prevention even had a time to register on the public’s radar, never mind nestle at the top of our ‘best of’ lists.
And Broken Records appear to have faltered after releasing a so-so debut album.
So what now for Frightened Rabbit, Selkirk’s finest and creators of my hands down favourite album of 2008, The Midnight Organ Fight?
With contemporaries the Phantom Band, Errors and the Twilight Sad probably a bit too left field to truly cross over, Scott Hutchison and co now seem to be Scotland’s great white hope.
Pre-release chatter for third album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, was of a bigger sound, songs for stadiums and comparisons to Sn*w P*tr*l and C*ldpl*y.
So should we be worried?
Should we fuck. The Winter of Mixed Drinks is an absolute treasure.
Sure, these songs are better produced, but Frightened Rabbit have maintained a genuine sense of intimacy about the whole thing. The Midnight Organ Fight wasn’t without its singalong choruses either, it’s just that here, they really soar.
And Gary Lightbody and Chris Martin shouldn’t lose any sleep just yet. The comparisons are ill-founded, but I can imagine that playing venues the size of the Queen’s Hall (I had the pleasure of attending last summer’s landmark gig) will become the norm for Frightened Rabbit, as opposed to pokey, glorified pubs.
So, what’s on offer here? Why should you go out and buy The Winter of Mixed Drinks?
Each of its 10 ‘proper’ songs are blssed with beautiful melodies. Scott’s vocals are heartfelt and swoonsome. If, after 2 mins 45 seconds of the Loneliness and the Scream, you are not covered in goosebumps, you really ought to check your pulse.
Epic centrepiece Skip the Youth builds ominously before crashing to earth and then crackling into life once more with multi-layered melodies. By the time it climaxes, it has become a pounding, rhythmic beast of a song – and possible the best thing they’ve ever done.
Musically, there’s not a massive progression, but something has certainly been added to give them that bigger sound I’ve mentioned. Perhaps it is just better production, maybe it’s down to them now being a five-piece. But the guitars now chime louder, arrangements are tighter and the percussion veers from the delicate to the thunderous.
Anyone who’s been following my tweets over the last nine months will know that I’ve been droning on about Frightened Rabbit for ages. But now there’s no excuse not to be listening.