Frightened Rabbit were my first new musical discovery of 2010, based on a throw away mention in something completely unrelated of ‘some obscure Scottish indie band’. I know, I know, I’m ridiculously late to the party with that band but it was these guys that made me realise how out of touch with new music I’d got and how much good stuff I was missing out on.
My affection for this band managed to be both really obvious and to completely sneak up on me. It must have been just before they released The Winter of Mixed Drinks; because I remember watching a sampler video thing of songs from that album and thinking they were good. At the time I described them to someone as ‘a band that I think I could love the way I love Idlewild, abstractly but loyally, always intending to get round to buying an album and only having seen them live by accident’. I had no idea how wrong I was.
The Midnight Organ Fight, is a very different album to their latest effort, and it was this that pushed them from ‘band I enjoy’ to ‘band I love’ status and has kept them in my top five most listened to bands all year. It’s an album that inspires a very intense, almost visceral emotional reaction in me, that makes me I wish I owned it in about third year of uni. Keep Yourself Warm and Poke are the two songs that grabbed my attention first by dint of pretty much grabbing me by the heart and dragging me back in time six or so years, and reminding me how it feel to have your heart ripped out. There’s a strange mix of sweetness, sadness, rage, bitterness and resignation in the songs, wrapped up in lyrics that are at once quirky and almost shockingly raw. Then, in the second last song, after all the loss and rage that came before, comes Floating in the Forth probably the most hopeful song written about feeling suicidal. If the album as a whole, tips you over, rearranges your thoughts and rips your heart out, that song comes along, gives you a reassuring hug and tells you that you’ve survived, you’re stronger now and that it gets better from here on in.
I’m still inclined to think that The Winter of Mixed Drinks, is a more mature/grown up record, the songs are certainly more radio-friendly and easier to demonstrate their excellence to other people with. Maybe it’ll even be the album that makes everyone else realise how awesome they are and in five years their sold out Glasgow gigs will be at Hamden rather than the Barrowlands; maybe my initial impression was correct and they’ll chug along at an Idlewild level of success for the next decade; maybe they’ll disappear back into obscurity. Whatever happens, here and now, they’ve got some excellent tunes.
As an added bonus, here’s a wee trip to Pepperland (animated music videos, how I love thee), courtesy of the video for Bright Pink Bookmark.