Scott Hutchison, lead singer for Scottish foursome Frightened Rabbit, has a rare knack for making even the most crass sentiments sound tender.
“It takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep warm,” he gently intones on “Keep Yourself Warm” from the band’s sophomore release “Midnight Organ Fight.”
On the surface, “Midnight Organ Fight” is a sweet-sounding collection. But Hutchison, backed by his brother Grant on drums, as well as guitarists/keyboardists Billy Kennedy and Andy Monaghan, keeps thinks interesting by throwing in the occasional vulgarity-twinged surprise. Take this gem from sweet acoustic ballad “Poke”:
“Why won’t our love keel over as it chokes on a bone / We can mourn its passing and then bury it in snow / Or should we kick its cunt in and watch as it dies from bleeding?”
“It sounds kind of clean, but it’s actually pretty fucking dirty once you get listening,” Hutchison explains in the album’s press materials.
Still, Hutchison, who sounds like a Scottish Adam Duritz, particularly on tracks like “My Backwards Walk” and the rollicking “Heads Roll Off,” is a poet at heart. The majority of the tracks on “Midnight Organ Fight” are laments to lost loves and failed relationships. “You must be a masochist to love a modern leper on his last leg,” he sings on the album’s lead-off track “The Modern Leper.”
For “Midnight Organ Fight,” Frightened Rabbit enlisted the help of producer Peter Katis, who has worked on efforts by Spoon, The National and Interpol, to craft a pristine whole that is more than the sum of its parts. Grant Hutchison’s pounding drums more than compensate for the band’s Doors-ian lack of a bassist, especially on tracks like the stirring, guitar-driven “Fast Blood” and jangly “Old Old Fashioned.”
The record is marred only by a trio of minute-long tracks (“Bright Pink Bookmark,” “Extrasupervery” and “Who’d You Kill Now?”) which feel out of place and break up the overall flow of the record.
But taken as a whole, “Midnight Organ Fight” acts as a catharsis for the listener, and apparently for Hutchison as well. On the oddly-hopeful penultimate track, “Floating in the Forth,” he reflects, “I think I’ll save suicide for another year.” It’s emo for the folk crowd – and for now, Hutchison can take comfort in the fact that his heartache is the root of Frightened Rabbit’s allure.
Frightened Rabbit U.S. tour dates:
May 24 Philadelphia, PA M Room
May 26 Allston, Mass. Great Scott
May 27 New York, NY Pianos
May 28 Cleveland, Ohio Grog Shop*
May 29 Chicago, Ill. Double Door*
May 30 Madison, Wis. High Noon Saloon*
May 31 Minneapolis, Minn. 400 Bar*
June 1 Chicago, Ill. Do Division Festival*
June 2 Kansas City, Mo. Record Bar*
June 4 Dallas, Texas Granada Theatre*
June 5 Austin, Texas The Mohawk*
June 6 Houston, Texas Walters*
June 7 Baton Rouge, La. Spanish Moon*
June 9 Birmingham, Ala. Bottletree*
June 10 Nashville, Tenn. Exit/In*
June 11 Columbus, Ohio The Basement*
*with the French Kicks