2010 CRAM: Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Each day before the end of 2010, I will be reviewing albums that I neglected when I was busy listening to The Band all year (again). This is the diary of my struggle to form my year-end list with dozens of 2010 albums still unclicked in my iTunes library.
Scottish rock quintet Frightened Rabbit have figured out how to garnish folk-inspired song structures with foggy programming without bullying the listener to focus on one or the other. Frontman and principle songwriter Scott Hutchinson has enough of production tricks up his sleeve to have a firm hold on his songs but not enough to bulge out of the seams and give him away; the songs stand on their own so well that you hardly notice the pulsing effects, but the songs would certainly affect you differently if they were stripped.
The Winter of Mixed Drinks opens with “Things,” a juggernaut of momentum that accelerates throughout but somehow never crashes. “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” is an immediate standout, boasting unshakable melodies that suitably frost the standard folk-tinged pop progression. The rest of the songs on the album prove that Hutchinson does not fear simplicity; the chord progressions are insultingly simple and the melodies are only unpredictable because they are so unexpectedly predictable. But Frightened Rabbit finds interesting, subtle, unobtrusive ways to make The Winter of Mixed Drinks refreshingly peculiar in a 2010 that saw an unwelcome (in my opinion) influx of new, half-assed electronic artists.
Likelihood of making the cut: 90%.