CD Review: Frightened Rabbit

The Winter of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat)

Frightened Rabbit began seven years ago as singer-guitarist Scott Hutchison's solo project but expanded into full-band status with Hutchison's drumming brother Grant and bassist-guitarist Bill Kennedy. The Scottish trio's first two albums — 2006's Sing the Greys and 2008's The Midnight Organ Fight — featured energetic and atmospheric pop melodicism and lyrical honesty. On The Winter of Mixed Drinks, Frightened Rabbit expand to a quartet with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Andy Monaghan. As a result, the band's third album is its most complex, bristling with a palpable energy that drives nearly every song. Whether darkly melancholy ("Not Miserable") or relentlessly upbeat ("Nothing Like You"), Frightened Rabbit pulse with indie-rock intensity that is irresistible, catchy, stylish and endlessly fascinating. Like XTC's Andy Partridge, Scott Hutchison has a knack for pop psychedelia and Beatlesque classicism — from the gorgeous pop waves of "Swim Until You Can't See Land" to the anthemic "The Loneliness and the Scream" to the exultant "Living in Colour." The Midnight Organ Fight was Frightened Rabbit's break-up album; The Winter of Mixed Drinks is their surviving-the-breakup triumph, rife with the band's emotionally wrought atmospherics and blazing integrity.

Brian Baker

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