The Albums of 2013 (#7): Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse (Atlantic)

Feature by Darren Carle | 04 Dec 2013

After the promising dress rehearsal of Frightened Rabbit’s debut album, Sing the Greys, the Selkirk troupe quickly followed up with main event The Midnight Organ Fight, a barbed, anthemic indie brew that drew rapturous applause, and which was even named our album of 2008.

Little surprise then that 2010’s The Winter of Mixed Drinks was keenly received yet fell short of some weighty expectations. “When you make a record that connects with people in such a strong way, it’s really difficult thereafter to find a place where you can write songs and produce albums that resonate in the same way,” says frontman Scott Hutchison of Organ Fight’s looming shadow. “So it’s really nice to feel like we’ve done that.”

And ‘done that’ they certainly have with Pedestrian Verse (read Hutchison's track by track guide to the album here), their fourth album and first for major label Atlantic Records. Its success can certainly be measured quantifiably, through chart position, new fans gained and the band's general step-up to the bigger leagues. More importantly, though, the critics seem to have judged Pedestrian Verse on its own merit rather than as an addendum to the band’s previous album. “It’s the first time that reaction to one of our records has been positive in both those spheres,” agrees Hutchison. “This album saw us take a step into a realm that had previously been untouched.”

Whilst the Rabbits' steady ascent was predictable enough after signing to Atlantic Records in 2010, the resultant up-turn in quality of their fourth LP was less certain. What seems to have helped is Hutchison's opening up of the songwriting process to the rest of his bandmates, leading to the creation of songs that sound more layered and crafted from the ground up. “It really refreshed the whole notion of being in Frightened Rabbit and I think that’s reflected in the album,” says Hutchison. “The process we went through really pulled things away from my singular vision and helped make this record stand by itself.”

Of course, the wider exposure they’ve gained in the interim has helped draw a line in the sand, as new fans come to the fray unencumbered by the weight of the past. However, veteran listeners have far from abandoned the good ship F’Rabbit – a testament to what they've achieved with this particular record. It’s subtle, diverse and incredibly accomplished, whilst sounding effortless, as if these euphoric tunes, these ear-worming riffs and these heartfelt tales were always hanging in the ether, ready for the band to utilise when they alone were ready.

“What people recognise Frightened Rabbit to be – honest music that doesn’t adhere to a particular style and isn’t about us being a buzz band – that’s still intact,” states Hutchison; “It’s a great place to be in.” It’s this balance of addressing the in-built, anthemic nature of their music whilst not kowtowing to how an indie-rock band that finds itself on a major label should sound that has unified their critical and commercial acclaim this time around.

“You always say, and you always mean it at the time, that your last record is your best one,” says Hutchison as he reflects on the year Pedestrian Verse has ushered in. “But I think I’ll look back on this one with greater fondness than I have before. I do believe it’s the best album we’ve made.”