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Album Review: Frightened Rabbit – Painting of a Panic Attack

 
By on Friday, 8th April 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

"FrightenedWhether Frightened Rabbit intended it or not, it seems decidedly appropriate to me that their new fifth album ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’ is being released during the lively season of spring. Their previous LP, 2013’s ‘Pedestrian Verse’, was a wintertime release, and it was a solid but stodgy affair, cold and dark and without much energy, almost as if the band themselves were heading into hibernation. ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’, by contrast, has a bit of an unexpected bounce in its step, a sense of gaining momentum despite the trademark bitterness of frontman and songwriter Scott Hutchison’s lyrics.

The band’s latest line-up change switches former guitarist Gordon Skene for new guitarist/keyboardist Simon Liddell, who worked with Hutchison and guitarist Andy Monaghan on 2014’s Owl John project. But perhaps the greatest impetus behind Frightened Rabbit’s freshly energised sound is producer Aaron Dessner (The National), who hosted the band in his Brooklyn studio to record the album. His expert touch can also be heard in both the breadth and subtle depth of the album’s expanded instrumental arrangements.

The album’s opening track ‘Death Dream’ is something of a transition from the previous album to the new, but also a somber, slow-moving introduction to the synth-based soundscapes that adorn ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’. Its gently echoing vocals and piano countermelody soften Hutchison’s sharply vivid lyrics, and the haunting choral bridge section turns a common phrase on its head with the repeated line “you died in my sleep last night”. But the next track and lead single ‘Get Out’ is immediately more upbeat, with synthesised drums and keyboards behind emphatic guitar lines. Its captivating opening verse lyric “with the arch of the church between her thumb and her forefinger, I will worship her” leads into the pounding repeated chorus “get out of my heart, she won’t, she won’t”.

Standout track ‘I Wish I Was Sober’ features the combined effect of Hutchison’s finest lyrics and his best vocal deliveries, particularly in the sorrowful line “my love you should know, the best of me left hours ago”. The anxiously building intensity in that song’s outro section carries over seamlessly into the heavily synth-laden track ‘Woke Up Hurting’, whose dark and shadowy verses lead into a pulsing, anthemic chorus.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/HvEEmGgI-04[/youtube]

For all its brooding thematic material, ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’ does find Hutchison becoming somewhat more optimistic in his songwriting, at least relatively speaking. ‘Still Want to Be Here’ finds him employing his effective falsetto tone in a tentatively hopeful chorus that lingers in the listener’s mind long after the album is over. And while there’s no real danger of Hutchison breaking his painful habit of self-deprecation, the chorus to ‘An Otherwise Disappointing Life’ is as close to uplifting as he’s ever been, as he sings of burning his “long list of tepid disappointments” in a figurative funeral pyre.

‘Blood Under the Bridge’ is another stark example of Hutchison’s perverse but clever wordplay with common phrases, in this case making the implication of deep emotional damage, but also expressing a willingness, even a determination, to move on. ‘400 Bones’ is a slower and even more introspective piano-based track whose title refers to two bodies lying together in bed. It might be the closest thing to a romantic love song we’ll ever hear from Hutchison and company. It’s quickly contrasted with the harsher sonic tones and social commentary of ‘Lump Street’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/es8wQcKrrhA[/youtube]

Final track ‘Die Like a Rich Boy’ is the perfect culmination to a deftly written and deftly arranged album, its acoustic foundation gradually unfolding to a fuller arrangement in both the voices and the instrumentation. Hutchison’s insightful lyrics, inspired by his recent move to Los Angeles, come across as both gently touching and pointedly ascerbic as he intones the vocal melody under lines like “I wanna die like a rich boy diving, in a hydrocodone dream / you could die like a rich girl by me, oh how the magazines would read”.

Though Hutchison ultimately decided that Los Angeles wasn’t the city for him, it appears that some time in the Southern California sunshine might have had a positive effect on his songwriting. ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’ features some of his most refined writing to date, which producer Dessner describes in the album’s press release as “a step above anything he’s written before.” Musically, the record combines the strong rhythms and countermelodies of Frightened Rabbit’s earlier albums ‘The Winter of Mixed Drinks’ and ‘Midnight Organ Fight’ with the synth-flavouring and atmospheric sound effects of the more recent ‘Pedestrian Verse’. In essence, the band have attempted to find a new sound by building on their own established strengths, and ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’ is the successful result of their experiment.

8.5/10

‘Painting of a Panic Attack’ is out today, Friday the 8th of April, on Atlantic Records. Frightened Rabbit will embark on a UK tour in support of the album starting next week; you can find all the dates here. TGTF’s collected previous coverage of Frightened Rabbit is back this way.

 

Video of the Moment #2037: Frightened Rabbit

 
By on Monday, 7th March 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

A fortnight ago, Scottish band Frightened Rabbit announced their return with the unveiling of ‘Death Dream’, a new single from their upcoming album ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’, scheduled to be out in April. The second teaser from the new LP has been revealed now. The promo for ‘Get Out’ seems more appropriate for an artist like Sia or Zola Jesus, as it stars two young women dancing and acting interpretively for a figurative translation of the song’s lyrics “she won’t get out of my heart”. Watch it below.

‘Painting of a Panic Attack’ is due out on the 8th of April via Canvasback / Atlantic. Following the release of the new album, they have a short tour of the UK planned in April. All of TGTF’s past coverage of Frightened Rabbit is through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBdsY_zsv_U[/youtube]

 

Frightened Rabbit / April 2016 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 25th February 2016 at 8:00 am
 

As if on cue, Scottish five-piece Frightened Rabbit have just announced a very brief list of UK tour dates for this April, following the release of their new LP ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’. The album is due out the 8th of April on Canvasback / Atlantic. We recently reviewed the album’s first single ‘Death Dream’ right back here.

Tickets for the following shows will be available starting tomorrow, Friday, the 26th of February, at 9 AM. In the meantime, you can read back through our archive of coverage on Frightened Rabbit by clicking here.

Tuesday 12th April 2016 – Manchester Academy 2
Wednesday 13th April 2016 – Dunfermline Alhambra
Thursday 14th April 2016 – London St. John at Hackney Church

 

Single Review: Frightened Rabbit – Death Dream

 
By on Tuesday, 23rd February 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Scottish alt-rockers Frightened Rabbit have just unveiled the first track from their upcoming new album ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’. Titled ‘Death Dream’, the new song does indeed have a hazy, indistinct quality about it, one that almost immediately (and somewhat to my dismay) reminded me of Bon Iver. But although frontman Scott Hutchison’s vocals are markedly lighter here than what we usually hear from him, he doesn’t mimic Justin Vernon’s unintelligible falsetto. Instead, he opts for a soft, even-keeled dynamic throughout the song, while distant backing vocals and a delicately layered instrumental arrangement create depth without becoming heavy or unwieldy, as we often heard on Frightened Rabbit’s previous LP ‘Pedestrian Verse’.

In contrast to its airy musical arrangement, the lyrics to ‘Death Dream’ are, true to Hutchison’s signature form, both starkly illustrative and emotionally weighty. The lines “a still life / is the last I will see of you / my painting of a panic attack” give the album its title, and Hutchison himself says that “the title, as with the song, is intended as a beautiful depiction of something horrific”. But some of the song’s other lyrics stand out as more horrifying in terms of their imagery. Poetic descriptions such as “an open mouth / a scream that makes no sound” and “blood seems black / against the skin on your porcelain back” pierce through the sheer and shadowy soundscape laid out behind them in a startlingly vivid fashion.

‘Death Dream’ isn’t as immediate or powerful as I might have expected from Frightened Rabbit, especially since their album has been almost 2 years in the making. However, the subtle interplay between the music and the lyrics is intriguing enough to arouse my curiosity about what else might be in store on the full LP.

8/10

Frightened Rabbit’s upcoming new album ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’ was recorded in Brooklyn with producer Aaron Dessner of The National and is due out on the 8th of April via Canvasback / Atlantic. The band haven’t yet announced UK tour dates in support of the new album, but you can find a full listing of North American tour dates on their official Facebook.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/YYLZrCuhu_0[/youtube]

 

2000 Trees Festival 2014 Roundup: Day 3 (Saturday) – Part 2

 
By on Friday, 8th August 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

The first half of John’s Saturday coverage of 2000 Trees 2014 is here.

During Blitz Kids’ set earlier in the day, gradually the Main Stage arena was populated by people in fancy dress. The theme for the weekend was ‘The Box Set’. So we’re talking, Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, Jon Snow, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin and Doctor Who. You get the picture.

The prizes were for the best individual fancy dress costume and the best group one. Now, my favourite group costume was undoubtedly a group of people with black painted beards and moustaches. They had black feathery long cloaks and carried staffs. I’m hearing you; they were most definitely Brothers of the Knight’s Watch. Surely in this year of Game of Thrones’ Mania, they couldn’t be anything else!? WRONG.

This cast of ten were dressed as Raven, the children’s game show host from the TV show Raven. Ya know, that TV show that was on a good 5 years ago and nobody has the foggiest clue what it is anymore. That. What made it even funnier is that NOBODY had any idea what Raven was and kept on saying they were Brothers of the Knight’s Watch, which just added to their frustration. Add to that the fact that it was hotter than Satan’s armpit, and they were wearing full leather and feather costumes, and you had a concoction for sweatiness.

In the end, despite their efforts, the Ravens didn’t win. They were defeated by six people who had quite literally come as box sets: seasons one to six of Lost. A stellar effort if you ask me. In the individual category, the winner was a Game of Thrones-ite, somebody dressed as Rob Snow, pre-Red Wedding…

Luckily, he was in the tent next to us too.

Its little annual quirks like this – the fancy dress competition and things like Camp Turner and Reuben – which make 2000 Trees a festival like no other. It’s got an unmatchable sense of personality and from the moment you step on the fields of Upcote Farm, it’s obvious that the people who came together to run the festival, were people who really give a shit about music festivals. What makes it even more spectacular is that the festival seems to attract people who are willing to get in on this utopic ideology. The best example of this was probably found just after the fancy dress contest, when I was walking away from the Main Stage in-between Blitz Kids and Canterbury for a drink.

The floor was completely clear. Not a fleck of rubbish on the ground – no cups, no wooden cutlery, no discarded noodles. Just freshly trodden on grass with the occasional welly print. On the final day of a festival, it’s frankly unheard of outside of Upcote Farm for this to be the case. Small things that make a big difference in my eyes.

Back to the bands and next up on the Main Stage were Canterbury. A group of four lads who obviously were very well liked by their head teacher at school, seeing as that could be the only way they’ve been let out of school so early. Either that, or god forbid they’d actually finished school? No way, they looked like they’d barely hit puberty!

Now I’ve heard a few of their songs on Spotify and been impressed, as they were catchy and seemed like a solid guitar band. Unfortunately, their set at 2000 Trees was underwhelming; even with lukewarm expectations, it was instantly forgettable, like a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist. (4/10)

After such a mediocre set on the Main Stage I made my first pilgrimage (300 yard walk) to The Axiom, which serves as 2000 Trees’ third stage. The last time I was lucky enough to bear witness to the ferocity of The Virginmarys was at Reading Festival last year.

Bizarrely, while on the Axiom Stage, the band were wearing almost identical outfits to the ones I saw them wear at Reading. Weird, I know. My first thought was, I hope they’ve been washed, before the threesome tore into their opening barrage. Their set was a breathtaking mix of catchy faux-Americana guitar music and frantic riffs that captivated the ever-growing crowd from the first moment.

Young girls of around 15 were dancing with their flower crowns in their hair, while aged retainers with Virginmarys t-shirts head-banged frantically over the railings at the front of the crowd. Drummer Danny Dolan dominated the stage with his enormous form at the back of the troupe, pummelling the kit like a man possessed and getting to his feet to completely punish the skins with his sticks.

Ally Dickaty’s rasping tones are the perfect front to this incredibly genuine Macclesfield rock band, and their debut album ‘King of Conflict’ is undoubtedly just the beginning of a very special journey for the band, one that continued in tremendous form at 2000 Trees, marking them out as one of the best acts of the weekend. (9/10)

After a brief food related interlude we returned to the fray for something the 2000 Trees audience have been waiting for, for possibly 7 years. Every year when Trees ask their numerous forums and social media outlets who should play at the festival, the cry is for a Reuben reunion. The cult-following of the 2000 Trees faithful is so powerful, so fanatic that there’s even a camp named after the now-deceased gods of underground post-hardcore.

While the band do still remain in a state of indefinite hiatus, the fact Jamie Lenman, the moustachioed frontman of the band, was gearing up for his appearance on The Cave was enough to pack the tent out, so that bodies were overflowing into the campsites. On record, Lenman’s eclectic mix of hardcore screams and then a separate album of lightly woven lovelorn ballads is admittedly a bit bizarre. However, live and with an audience worshipping his every breath, fart and most-likely bowel movements, it was always going to be a triumphant Upcote Farm debut for Lenman.

The crowd hung on every last syllable uttered by the moustachioed troubadour, whether he was screaming himself hoarse or spinning another ballad the he held the crowd within the palm of his hand from start to finish, standing on stage in his dungarees, sweating buckets in the warm red lights that illuminated The Cave. (9/10)

Closing the day’s festivities and the entire event, were the enigmatic Frightened Rabbit, a band who I don’t pretend to know anything about, apart from the fact they’re Scottish. With the serene settings and the great oak overlooking the stage, the band unleashed a set almost tailor-made for this faux-hippy festival. Part folk, part rock and with lead singer Scott Hutchison obviously humbled by the warm reception he received from the 2000 Trees crowd they brought the proverbial curtain down with enigmatic style. (8/10)

 

Video of the Moment #1368: Frightened Rabbit

 
By on Thursday, 31st October 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

Frightened Rabbit have unveiled their latest promo video, this time for ‘Pedestrian Verse’ track ‘Holy’. The mini-film follows a working woman’s day that leads to an escape to nature. Watch it below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2GkM9FWvag[/youtube]

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

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