Monday, March 15
Frightened Rabbit Fail To Live Up To Coolness of New Album's Title
Artist: Frightened Rabbit
Album: The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Short Review: Still good, just not as good as before.
Long Review: There is no big reason, no giant flaw to blame for The Winter of Mixed Drinks's failure to resonate as strongly as Frightened Rabbit's sophomore album does. There are, however, a few small reasons one could point to.
A contributing factor could be the band's recent additions, members wise. Between second and third records, the band gained two new members and with them access to a bunch of new instruments to throw into the mix. Now, going from four dudes to six dudes is by no means an insurmountable obstacle, recoding wise, but it does mean the addition of two more voices, two more things to mix into the songs. This might account for the muddled feeling the album maintains throughout. The production gives equal treatment to all elements, making for a soupy, indistinct listen throughout.
Still, it isn't like the band forgot how to write songs. Mixed Drinks still packs a good punch at its best moments. First and second singles "Swim Until You Can't See Land" and "Nothing Like You" are both catchy little rock songs that continue the band's reputation for being a cooler, more eloquent Coldplay 2.0. The former is a more subdued number about getting lost in one's one mind. The latter is a classic “fuck you, look how awesome this new girl is,” type song: righteously vengeful without being too bitter. There's also "The Loneliness and the Scream," an album highlight that utilizes gang vocals and one catchy-as-sin guitar melody to perfection, creating a somber tune about... uh... being lonely.
These track aside, the rest of the album plays out in a pleasant, unremarkable way, never really shaking off a crowded, muddy feeling. Which leads to the second possible reason this album doesn't quite stick: lead Rabbit Scott Hutchinson has gone on record saying that Mixed Drinks is a much less personal album than his last, that the record is more about “being lost and not knowing where you are,” and that it is less focused than previous efforts.
This isn't a bad album, and these quotes are by no means deal breakers, but it is a little telling than an album about “feeling lost” suffers from a distinct lack of focus or specific vision.
Again, there is no big reason that The Winter Of Mixed Drinks isn't the almighty followup to Midnight Organ Fight one would hope for. I wish there was a better way to say “it just isn't as good as their last one.”
This personal anecdote will have to do: On their last record, Frightened Rabbit had a way of dominating any activity. Songs about loss and love would float from the background and take hold of whatever was going on. Snips of songs and lyrics would find their way into my brain, hanging on my mind with their simplicity and power. This time around, I had to look up the lyrics.
Key Tracks: The Loneliness and the Scream, Nothing Like You, Swim Until You Can't See Land
Buy, Steal, Skip: Steal