Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, May 11th, 2016

Frightened Rabbit: Painting of a Panic Attack

frightenedFrightened Rabbit
Painting of a Panic Attack
(Atlantic Records)

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The three years between Pedestrian Verse and Painting of a Panic Attack marked a shifting point for Frightened Rabbit. The band parted ways with guitarist/keyboardist Gordon Skene, while frontman Scott Hutchison released a solo album under the moniker Owl John. Indeed, Hutchison hasn’t been shy about confessing that he was uncertain whether Frightened Rabbit had a future. Fortunately for all of us, doubt is one of the band’s best muses. Musically, Painting of a Panic Attack is a maturation for the band. While still predominately a guitar band, they’ve allowed keyboards to come up in the mix and the beats to sound more digital. The touch of producer Aaron Dessner (of The National fame) is felt throughout the record, from the subtle encouragement of more electronic elements, to the songs being a little quieter but no less moody. It makes for songs that may be denser but that are far more layered and worth multiple listens to pull apart. Like some other Scottish acts, Frightened Rabbit have a way of making misery seem celebratory. “I Wish I Was Sober” needs no explanation, while “Woke Up Hurting” could be capturing a hangover, jet lag, homesickness, or a combination of the three. Perhaps drawing back from the response to The Winter of Mixed Drinks, here even the love songs have a healthy dose of grounding in reality. “Get Out” is an almost aggressive, resentful take on being in love to the point of obsession, while the lovely “An Otherwise Disappointing Life” declares, “I have a long list of tepid disappointments/It doesn’t mention you.” My only complaint is that the edge of the band’s live act seems to be toned down, but that’s all the more reason to buy a concert ticket. The perfect note to end this record is “Die Like a Rich Boy” because it sounds so unlike a traditional Frightened Rabbit song. The lyrics depict a couple chasing a glamorous but tragic end. With vows like “I’ll be Shakespeare’s moonstruck king/We can lose our minds at the top of the hill,” the writing is exquisite and grim, bittersweet and beautiful. The song ends abruptly, leaving you breathless for a conclusion. Until next time, Frightened Rabbit.

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Frightened Rabbit: Painting of a Panic Attack