Frightened Rabbit - State Hospital EP | Album Review | By Volume

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state hospital

Frightened Rabbit

State Hospital EP

Grit, heart, poignancy and a curve ball make this EP a Frightened Rabbit microcosm.

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Author: on September 25, 2012
7.0
Atlantic Records
September 24, 2012

Writing about The Winter of Mixed Drinks two years ago, I wondered what Frightened Rabbit’s beautifully fucked-up melancholy indie would look like when they woke up to the morning after the night before. The Midnight Organ Fight was produced from inside such gritty emotional turmoil, a record about break-ups and a broken accelerator pedal; its successor watched as the clouds parted, through struggles and swims to the shoreline. When you crawl onto land, though, the test is always where your next steps take you. The question was always whether Frightened Rabbit had some form of a compass once they brushed the sand out of their eyes.

If we feared that the coming-to-rest of that two-album story arc would find the band paralysed in headlights like their proverbial band name, we were fools. Since the opening bar of “The Modern Leper”, Scott Hutchison has not tripped over his insecurity once. This is a band that stretched their palette in such an obvious way on their third full-length but still managed to make it sound distinctly unpredictable. Heck, when all’s said and done, this is a band that wrote “My Backwards Walk”.

If all this didn’t get the blood rushing, State Hospital‘s eponymous track most certainly did. A grizzly, haunting slab of Scottish sadness that stood out in the wind and the rain and clenched its fists. That track arguably summed up the extent of Frightened Rabbit’s music to date – a story about the real and concrete, complete with bloody details, but with an absolutely thundering heart at its core.

And that’s more or less how State Hospital plays out. “Boxing Night” is a self-loathing anthem amid quick-picked guitars which rises to an exhausted climax; “Off” is another typical Frightened Rabbit cut, making the most of background “ah”s to bring “Old Old Fashioned” into a less obvious state. But it’s the other two cuts which bode most intriguingly: “Home From War” harbours that much-loved momentum, rolling along, but displaces itself and finds the base of its title’s emotional mindset. In closing, “Wedding Gloves” both confounds and impresses. I don’t recall this sound anywhere: a tranquil but foreboding spoken, Cohen-esque intro courtesy of Aidan Moffat which gives way to a sombre song and later crosses paths with that same Scottish drawl again. It doesn’t entirely fit with the rest of this EP – I wonder if it would fit many places – but it’s compelling, and proof that this is a band with a huge array of possible next destinations.

You can stream the EP below:

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