Frightened Rabbit - The Winter Of Mixed Drinks (4 stars)

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Frightened Rabbit - The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

(Fat Cat)

Along with The Twilight Sad and The Phantom Band, Frightened Rabbit are at the vanguard of Scottish indie, building a fine reputation for powerful, plaintive rock shapes and brutally honest lyricism. Their two albums to date have shown buckets of promise, promise which is mostly delivered on here. The Winter of Mixed Drinks is a more upbeat and coherent album than 2008’s The Midnight Organ Fight, with a handful of brilliant tracks demonstrating singer Scott Hutchison’s maturing songwriting skills. This is first evident in rabble-rousing second track, ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’, a rattling juggernaut of a tune that marries the whole album’s message of learning to let go with a singalong chorus The Arcade Fire or The Killers would be proud of.

This trick is reproduced several times, like on new single ‘Nothing Like You’ or the album’s focal point, ‘Living in Colour’, both songs managing to reproduce the drive the band have always exhibited on stage.

Elsewhere it’s not all unremitting genius, and the extra coherence they’ve created comes at a price. There’s a danger at times of the band’s trademark sound descending into banality, with a few of the tracks here washing over the listener even after repeated listens, something not aided by Hutchison’s reliance on highly repetitive melody lines. But overall this is undoubtedly a step forward for a band who have all the requisite skills and personality to break through into the mainstream. Is 2010 the year of the rabbit? It could well be.

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