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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Strong ‘Drinks’ from Scottish group

    Frightened Rabbit

    The Winter of Mixed Drinks

    FatCat Records

    Released March 9, 2010

    Score: A

    After releasing one of the most critically lauded albums of 2008, you might think Frightened Rabbit frontman, Scott Hutchison, would have a lot to be happy about. Yet he continues to plead for “”the scream to prove that I exist.”” With The Winter of Mixed Drinks, Frightened Rabbit proves something far greater than existence — excellence.

    While previous release, The Midnight Organ Fight, merged Scot-rock sensibility with climactic post-rock for a repetitive crutching on a build-build-build song structure, Mixed Drinks finds the quartet stylistically unpredictable. They can play fuzzed-out guitar sing-alongs like “”Nothing Like You,”” as well as anthemic ballads like “”Skip The Youth.”” Their stunning musicianship remains, but the band has found a greater sense of dimension — the ability to maximize their sound across any structure.

    Frightened Rabbit remains a band most notable for its lyrics. On their first single, “”Swim Until You Can’t See Land,”” the band embraces a folk-pop sound with soothing group vocals behind Hutchison’s desperate chant of “”Swim until you can’t see land/Are you a man or a bag of sand?”” There’s a ceremonial sense of chaos in Hutchison’s passionate lyricism — a glorious nihilism heralded by the honesty present in his delivery.

    More so than ever before, Frightened Rabbit presents itself as a rock group. The addition of session violin and cello work does nothing to diminish their sound. Mixed Drinks hits harder than either of its predecessors. “”Foot Shooter”” shows off the range of Grant Hutchison’s bursting folk-rock drumming, as well as the developing skills of guitarist Billy Kennedy. The group’s shift to a more expansive rock sound is reminiscent of late ‘80s U2, but with greater urgency — and thankfully a lot less Bono.

    Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Mixed Drinks is how instantly relatable it feels. You could never mistake Frightened Rabbit for an American band, but they are not restricted by their Scottish roots. As the crescendo of “”Not Miserable”” builds around a repeated chorus of “”I am, I am, I am,”” backed by furious drumming and stringed harmonies, Frightened Rabbit capture a worldly intimacy that is all at once profound and deeply personal.

    As Hutchison sings “”I didn’t need these things”” on album opener, “”Things,”” you can’t help but know he must be talking about anything other than his songs. All 11 tracks are indelible, and he surely needs them. I, for one, sympathize.

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