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The winter of my discontent

April 6, 2010

Frightened Rabbit
The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Fat Cat
Date

Rating: 6.1/10

Oh how I anticipated this! The new Frightened Rabbit album, my earnest desire, I put you up on a pedestal, your promise increasing my anticipation to fever pitch.

First, “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” teased me into believing that you were going to be a sunny, bright voyage away from the lovable gloom of Midnight Organ Fight. Then “Nothing Like You” made me think that maybe it wouldn’t all be sunshine and flowers, but that it would still be a damn good rock ‘n’ roll album.

For all intents and purposes it is a good album, maybe even more rock ‘n’ roll than MOF, but it just doesn’t hit the highs that I was expecting, and honestly left a bad taste in my mouth because I am a classic over reactor.

The aforementioned singles from The Winter of Mixed Drinks are stellar, of a class all their own. When dissecting the rest of the album, however, I come up a bit empty-handed.

There is a propensity throughout lead singer and songwriter Scott Hutchison’s work for creating clever lines, yet his sea imagery seems a bit stretched thin across this album.

To write this album he turned to the eastern coast of Scotland (rather than a crushing heartbreak) to glean his lyrics from. At times his muse is completely obvious, “Swim Until You Can’t See Land,” but at others they are more discreet, almost to obscurity.

He bandies his oceanic metaphor quite subtly on “Living In Colour,” using the ocean to describe a drinking binge “soaking” him in “the Winter of Mixed Drinks.” Hutchison stretches this metaphor to “Foot Shooter,” pulling what little depth he had meant for his words too thinly, causing the dam to break and his metaphors to become diluted by the sheer volume of water.

Of course, I am being overly critical of this album, almost to a fault. Though The Winter of Mixed Drinks is quite a step down from their last effort, it’s not an awful album by any stretch of the imagination.

Thin metaphors excluded, “Living in Colour” is the kind of song that gives you a good feeling when you listen to it. This may be due to the gang vocals, or the snappy cadence of the drums; though it is an aesthetic that doesn’t require much deep thought.

Lead singer and songwriter Scott Hutchison still has that chip on his shoulder that lends itself to writing easily accessible lyrics. When his Scottish warble finally chimes out on “Skip The Youth” he immediately strikes a chord with his audience bemoaning his youth and sardonically criticizing how it has aged him.

This song has the same vibe that made MOF immediately endearing. The music that backs up Hutchison’s vocals, like most of that on The Winter of Mixed Drinks, is charming and fun.

Though this album isn’t what I had in mind for the months I anticipated it, I can say that it is a decent album. I suppose I only have myself to blame, but a decent album isn’t what I wanted from these Scots.

I suppose this makes this the winter of my discontent.

Originally posted at VidetteOnline.com.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2010 2:56 pm

    Nice review, even though you’re a bit down on the album. Regrettably I’m unfamiliar with The Mignight Organ Fight, so I have nothing to compare this latest album to, but I do like The Winter of Mixed Drinks very much. Your review makes me want to rush out and get the earlier album. But it’s hard, isn’t it, when a band makes a great album and then, by all accounts, can’t follow it up. Having said that, coming to FR fresh, The Winter of Mixed Drinks is a perfectly fine record with not a dud minute of music on the thing.

    • Chris Davies permalink*
      April 6, 2010 6:45 pm

      Thanks Nigel. If I were you I wouldn’t hesitate to get MOF, because it is nearly flawless.

      That said, Mixed Drinks is certainly worth while, just not the same.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. April 6, 2010 10:15 pm

    I have to say I really agree. ‘Drinks’ certainly has some high points, but the emotional connection of MOF is missing… and it was missed!

    A really similar situation, albeit a different style of music, arose for me with regards to Sweden’s Shout Out Louds. Their second and first albums were some of my favorite music of the past ten years, and their most recent effort, while by no means bad, just didn’t live up to my internal hype.

    Sad, I suppose, but not the end of the world.

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