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Album review: Frightened Rabbit's 'The Winter of Mixed Drinks'

March 8, 2010 |  1:58 pm

FRIGHTENED_RABBIT_240The breakup album remains a rock 'n' roll rite of passage of sorts, and Frightened Rabbit had a killer one in 2008 with "The Midnight Organ Fight." The Glasgow-based act boasts an impassioned wailer in Scott Hutchison, and the band's drink-filled tales of empty hook-ups, religious doubts and lonely compromises were given anthemic, rootsy arrangements, where keyboards burned in the quiet moments, and guitar bursts were used only for an emotional release.

The centerpiece of the band's follow-up is a song entitled "Not Miserable." With a redemptive backing choir and church-worthy keyboards at his ready, Hutchison declares, "I am free from disease, no grays, no liver spots." Happiness? Not quite, but as it builds to a grand finale of weather-alarm guitars and rhythmic waves, it becomes the song as a sigh of relief.

Survival is a theme throughout "The Winter of Mixed Drinks," where more careful arrangements replace the cathartic scruffiness of the band's prior effort. "Nothing Like You" is all melodic exuberance, where kickin' cancer brings some perspective to love, and "The Wrestle" is shaded with echoing textures and grand harmonies. 

At times, a more professional Frightened Rabbit comes off as a less passionate one, but then the band drops a cut like "Skip the Youth." Guitars move in like icebergs crashing into the dock, and Hutchison pleads for a fast-forward button on the whole growing-up process. "Its aging me too much," he sings, and it shows there's still plenty of drama to be gleaned from maturity. 

--Todd Martens

Frightened Rabbit
"The Winter of Mixed Drinks"
FatCat Records
Three stars (Out of four)