Frightened Rabbit is mature and refined on The Winter of Mixed Drinks

On 2008’s The Midnight Organ Fight, Frightened Rabbit was brash and blunt. Frontman Scott Hutchison Scottish-ed forth his lyrics (there’s no other way to say it, really), which themselves weren’t particularly rays of sunshine. And, above all else, the music never got too out of control. You had your guitars, keyboards, drums, and vocals, and they were all laid out as bare as the frank lyricism.

Well, that’s not happening on The Winter of Mixed Drinks. Sometime in the past two years the band apparently discovered the studio, with all its bells and whistles, and the band’s new output reflects that. The first two minutes of “Skip the Youth” is all chugging, layered ambiance, for instance, and its climax utilizes a choral element the band hadn’t previously explored. The album as a whole is heavily layered, and it requires the listener to actively push their way through songs to get to their centers. Again, we’re not dealing with the comparatively simple compositions of the band’s past work; this iteration of Frightened Rabbit wants you to try.

That could be off-putting for listeners who associate the band with blunt sentiments like those found in “Keep Yourself Warm,” but rest assured there is reason to stick around. It’s far from perfect — the repetitive and boring “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” doesn’t deserve its half-hearted reprise, “Man/Bag of Sand” later on in the album, for example — but don’t let it deter you. The Winter of Mixed Drinks is a very good album that seems to be pointing the band in the direction of their opus, which is the most exciting part of all.

Frightened Rabbit – “Nothing Like You” [MP3]

Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” [MP3]

Purchase The Winter of Mixed Drinks here.

2 comments to Frightened Rabbit is mature and refined on The Winter of Mixed Drinks

  • I loved Midnight Organ Fight and Mixed Drinks has been on repeat for me.

    I like your point that they “found the studio”. But instead of many other band finding the studio and over producing, over correcting everything they still are realizing it’s about the music and the experience of the album.

    It sounds brilliant but the simplest things like the plucked ending to the opening track with it’s equally loud hiss are left on the record and not removed. Because when it comes down to it? Who the hell cares. (aside from me apparently)

  • liz

    Nice review, Jon. I haven’t spent too much time on this release, but you’ve reminded me to go back!