Release Date: Feb 5, 2013
There are a number of bands that I’ve simply happened upon by some chance thanks to iTunes’ “Listeners Also Bought” feature. Frightened Rabbit is definitely at the top of this list by way of an iTunes suggestion stemming from an equally fantastic band, The Frames.
Pedestrian Verse is the fourth album by these lads from Scotland and their first “major label” release. They gained much critical acclaim for their incomparable 2008 release, The Midnight Organ Fight which was built upon a foundation of incredibly strong lyrics. Their 2010 followup, The Winter of Mixed Drinks brought a marked change musically to a more “plugged-in” sound and perhaps lost some of the lyrical immediacy of it’s predecessor. Unfortunately, I’ve always had some trouble getting into their 2006 debut, Sing the Greys which seems to me very rough and unpolished. This new record brings together the lyrical depth of MOF and continues the musical development of WoMD with a few nods to StG.
Acts of Man opens the album with a simple piano melody that serves as a pleasant welcome to both returning fans and first time listeners. From the get-go, songwriter Scott Hutchinson proves again that he writes the most poetic curse words in the music business. I had the chance to “interview” Scott about this song. Below is the full transcript of that conversation.
@owljohn is that you singing at the start of Acts of Man or are we hearing one of your wonderful bandmates – sounds a bit unfamiliar.
@ryanbrymer it’s me. Aye.
— Scott Hutchison (@owljohn) January 29, 2013
The standout tracks State Hospital and The Woodpile have both been previously released as part of an EP and as a single, respectively. State Hospital is perhaps the most defining piece the band has ever crafted – a heartbreaking story wrapped in simple, engaging production. It’s not fair to say that there is an “explicit content” warning. The content is not explicit, he just happens to use some language that may be viewed as offensive to more conservative listeners. He’s from Scotland – they do things different over there. Craig Ferguson shout out.
The Woodpile is a great example of the band’s sonic progression – scaled-back verses making way for driving choruses. The official video is below, but Scott also recorded an amazing acoustic version for a UK website.
There’s some great work here and I’ll be curious to learn more of what drove the record’s thematic development. There is a mild dose of religious imagery sprinkled throughout that I would love to have some answers on. Musically, though, I’m more a fan of the stripped-down approach. Hutchinson is a storyteller and most of his stories are fraught with pain and loss and I don’t feel that driving rock instrumentation lends itself well to that. I find that the vocal gets lost in the production making it harder for me to draw conclusions or fully grasp what is being conveyed without months and months of listening. While it doesn’t answer all of my questions, here’s a great article that Scott wrote about the album’s development.