Track-by-track: Frightened Rabbit's Pedestrian Verse
Returning to the fray this month with their "darkest record yet", frontman Scott Hutchison guides us through Frightened Rabbit's eagerly anticipated fourth LP
Acts of Man
I always saw Acts of Man and State Hospital as a pair. Having written State Hospital I felt like I needed a counterpoint which turned its gaze on the male of the species. Maybe the two songs even intertwine. Perhaps the plumber had bits of vomit on his shoe when he took her home, maybe he lied and said he loved her. In any case, I didn't want to complete or conclude either of the songs in a traditional 'story' sense. They are each a surface peek into a million different stories, happening now, somewhere across the globe.
This song was inspired by a novel by the Scottish writer Chris Brookmyre. In his 2011 book Where The Bodies Are Buried, the detectives use aerial images to hunt for undiscovered bodies. I took this idea and threaded it into a song about unpleasant secrets in a more general sense. Infidelity, mistakes, wrong-doings. These things are never really gone, no matter how far down you bury them. They're always lurking, even when you yourself are dead. Here, we also introduce to the album the fairly prominent metaphor of death... which is nice.
There was a period of time in 2011 when I wasn't exactly acting like a pillar of society. Not that I could ever claim to have been a pillar in the past, it's just that the particular period described in this song was far more destructive than creative. Now, I also believe that this behaviour, although selfish and thoughtless, can be essential. It is a non-religious baptism of sorts. Ruin everything and start again. Here we have the belligerent protagonist telling his concerned friends to go fuck themselves. So, aye, go fuck yourself. Pal.
This song took a while to get right. This is version number five and I'm so glad we didn't settle for the previous incarnations. It's a big, confident rock song about helplessness. I like that juxtaposition.
Late March, Death March
A jolly tune about an argument between two people as they walk home after a night out. Such arguments, particularly when alcohol is involved, can be utterly devoid of logic and this song takes place at the point where one half just gives in and says, “Look, maybe I was a prick and maybe you were a wee bit reactionary, but we are definitely both drunk and this will not solve itself now. Please can we go to sleep.”
Minor key! At last! There are a few other minor key songs that didn't make it on to the record, but I'm glad this one did. In true minor key fashion, it's about a sad and frustrating time. After a few too many ‘death marches,’ people begin to discover that they can't be together anymore.
Housing (in) & Housing (out)
These songs were written as a pair and I was trying to reflect the joys of being in a touring band. Getting to go home for one night, and just as you are settling, being ripped away from all comforts and thrown into the rammy again. I've learned to relish most of those minutes of home time for this reason.
Death again. Hello sir. Simply put, this is a four minute version of the (usually) flippant statement “I wish I was dead.” Not many people genuinely do wish for that, but I know how it feels to wonder about the relief that the nothingness would bring. I imagine no noise, no light. Fucking nothing. Maybe a drip feed of single malt whisky though, if I'm lucky enough to get punted down to Hell.
This was the first song I wrote for the record. Or, at least the first one I finished. Lyrically, it set a standard which I tried to uphold on the rest of the songs. It was my first foray into writing about someone else's life and constructing a character other than a version of myself.
I think this is my favourite song on the album. To me it's an exercise in writing the most miserable song possible, but then whacking the listener with a punchline at the end. I think it's a really important song to the record as a whole, as a lot of the other material is rather ‘full-pelt.’ This feels like a breathing space after an onslaught.
The Oil Slick
Funky little fucker, this one. I never thought I’d write those words in relation to a Frightened Rabbit song, but I'm happy that I have had to. I think this is my favourite drum sound from any of our records, and Billy really had his pimp hat on when he wrote that bassline. I think that this song, maybe in a similar way to Floating In The Forth on Midnight Organ Fight, provides a last minute lift to what may be our darkest record yet. There is always hope...
Pedestrian Verse was released via Atlantic Records on 4 Feb 2013
A Waltz Across the Carpet fundraiser for Tiny Changes, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 26 Jan