Friday, April 30th, 2010
Review of Frightened Rabbit’s The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
David GourleyFrightened Rabbit’s 2008 album The Midnight Organ Fight earned itself many adjectives – “grand”, “anthemic” and “gobsmacking” from these parts, and less subjectively, “folk-rock” from most everyone. It certainly wasn’t afraid to get loud and electrified, but the foundation of the record was homespun and acoustic and the Scots rode that formula to great acclaim and a place as one of my favourites of the year.
For this year’s follow-up The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, the sonic dressings have received a significant bump in density and volume. More of the instrumentation is plugged in and turned up and the songs delivered with more aggression and intensity. The extra bombast and general tumult in the production can make for a bit of an exhausting listen and does take a while to adjust to, but thankfully Scott Hutchinson’s familiar thick brogue and the sentiments of angst and melancholy that it delivers are there to anchor things. And just as Mixed Drinks is the most musically confident thing the band has done, the lyrics offer a patina of hopefulness over their signature emotionally fragile core. Whereas Organ Fight was gloriously wracked with self-doubt, Mixed Drinks finds there’s nothing better to bolster one’s confidence than a brace of songs that cry out for mass sing-alongs and dares to stand up, even if its uncertain what it’s going to do once upright.
Though they missed a few dates due to the Icelandic volcanic eruption, Frightened Rabbit’s North American tour is now underway and they have a sold-out show at the Opera House in Toronto next Tuesday, May 4. There’s features on the band at Death & Taxes, NOW and The Boston Herald.
MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”
Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Nothing Like You”
Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Nothing Like You” (alternate version)
Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”
And if you didn’t get tickets to said Frabbits show or are looking for something else to do the evening of the 4th, let me again make by strongest recommendation for Welsh trio The Joy Formidable, whose debut mini-album A Balloon Called Moaning will officially be out in North America that day and who are making their Toronto debut with a free show at the Horseshoe that night.
Over at her MySpace, Kate Jackson is offering a taste of what she’s been up to since the dissolution of The Long Blondes last year – namely hanging out on Twitter, working with Bernard Butler and piecing together her solo debut. There’s no timetable as to when said record might be finished, but if “Homeward Bound” accurately sets the tone then it will be worth whatever the wait is.
Public Image Limited’s May 7 show has been moved from the Kool Haus to The Phoenix.
Pitchfork endorses the brilliant Phonogram comics series, both volumes of which are now available in trade paperback form – on sale no less. The complete first issue of volume two is available to preview online. Also note that artist Jamie McKelvie will be in town next weekend for the Toronto Comics Arts Festival at the Toronto Reference Library, so if you like, swing by and say hi.