The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of the album 'The Winter of Mixed Drinks' by Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit - Winter of Mixed DrinksReview Snapshot: The Scottish five piece have returned with their much third anticipated album. The record sees them depart from the alt folk genre, currently saturated with bands like Mumford & Sons and Noah & the Whale. It was a potentially dicey move on their part, one that could have easily backfired. Frightened Rabbit doing shoe-gaze is not something that should have worked, but it ha. And it's far better than anyone could have thought.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review: 'The Winter of Mixed Drinks' is Frightened Rabbits third outing, and definitely a worthwhile one. The Scottish natives' notable departure from the Alternative/Folk genre, perfected on their previous album 'The Midnight Organ Fight', was a risk that has definitely paid off. The band that started out as a solo project has since swelled to five members, bringing with them a more mature expansive sound. With this record it is less a fervent rush pushing out track after track, becoming instead a more mellow, thought-out stride from song to song.

The folk arrangements may have been replaced by a more shoe-gaze sound, but with lead singer Scott Hutchison's distinctive, almost moaning, vocals they simply could not be mistaken for any other band. Thankfully, what has not changed are the beautiful if not slightly disturbed lyrics, penned once again by Hutchison, which have become a staple of the band. It is these unique lyrics that allow for such an easy transition between genres.

In the track 'Swim until You Can't See Land' a repetitive upbeat guitar masks the darkness hidden in the lyrics; the story of a man going to the sea to drown (“The Sea seen my like before but it's my first and perhaps last time”). 'The Loneliness and the Scream' is probably more autobiographical than Hutchison would like to admit, it exposes his need for attention, he will simply not allow himself to be ignored (“...the scream to prove to everyone that I exist”).

However it is with 'Living In Colour' that something new emerges, a blatant sense of hope resounding not only musically but for the first time it can be clearly heard lyrically, if not with slightly bizarre imagery. It is upbeat and unashamedly so: “You put the blood to my blue lips, forced the life through my still veins”. Well it's about as optimistic as these boys can get.

It is with repeated listens that the brilliance of this album truly reveals itself, each play exposing hidden depths. Surpassing the hype that has surrounded it, it is one of the most worthwhile releases so far this year. 

Katie Murphy

  • To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.

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