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Album Review
Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks Album Cover

Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks

Reviewed by
9.0
Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Record Label: Fat Cat Records
Release Date: March 9, 2010
If you’ve never heard of Frightened Rabbit before, please go listen to them now. I promise that you will not be disappointed. If you’re already familiar with this band, it isn’t surprising that their third full-length album is titled, “The Winter of Mixed Drinks.” I’ll admit the title seemed a little peculiar to me when it was first announced, but after spending a good deal of time with this record, it makes perfect sense. The band from Selkirk, Scotland are at the forefront of a wave of great musicians and bands coming from Scotland, which all seem to be label-mates and members of the Fat Cat Records family. (Look into “We Were Promised Jetpacks” and “The Twilight Sad”) The new album finds the band moving into a bigger more layered sound with the addition of guitarist/multi-Instrumentalist Gordon Skene. That being said, this album feels like an organic progression from their prior efforts, and there is also a nice mix of familiar terms as the band references specific lyrics from their previous album, “The Midnight Organ Fight.”

The album opens up with a light airy sound and then a distorted chord cuts in and is repeatedly played until Scott Hutchison’s distinct vocals are heard for the first time on the album. At the one minute mark, the drums drop into the mix, as Scott proclaims, “I didn’t need these things, I didn’t need them. Pointless artifacts from a mediocre past. So I shed my clothes, I shed my flesh, down to the bone, and burned the rest.” Although the band’s past is far from mediocre, this opening track could be viewed as a statement to those fans that were hoping to hear “The Midnight Organ Fight - Part II” as it proclaims a shedding of all material possessions and a moving away from one’s past. As the epic ending of “Things” fades away with the acoustic finger picking of guitar strings, there is a brief pause before the distinct opening riff of “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” bursts through the speakers. Arguably the best song that Frightened Rabbit has ever written, this song seems to encompass the entire theme of this album, as it proclaims, “Let’s call me a Baptist, Call this a drowning of the past. She is there on the shoreline throwing stones, at my back. So swim until you can’t see land. Are you a man, are you a bag of sand?” The next two songs are great tracks, and “The Wrestle” sounds even better performed live.

However, the true standout track of the album is “Skip The Youth.” The intro anxiously builds for nearly two minutes, before climatically nearly dropping all sound out, except for the almost faint yet powerful high notes of a keyboard, and some clean guitar work, as Hutchison sings, “I’ve been digging that hole tonight, on my knees beneath the moon. All I need is a place to lie, Guess a grave will have to do. Won’t you give me two minutes please? Just let me cover my eyes. All the hammer and scrape, has been chipping away at the luster of life.” By the end of this six minute track, it becomes clear just what Hutchison is feeling as the track fades out with an almost chant like chorus of, “Skip the youth, it’s aging me too much.”

“Nothing Like You” eagerly breaks through with the distinct jumpy fast paced guitar strumming that seems almost like a signature sound for the band. The vocals in this song are great, but what makes them so distinct is hard to articulate. Although Frightened Rabbit has had some mainstream exposure with a couple of their songs on television shows, among other critical acclaim, I believe this song has the potential to propel them to new heights. “Man/Bag of Sand” is a reprise of the chorus of “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” but the short two and a half minute interlude, is somehow refreshing and seems to evoke a new life to the familiar lyrics. Tracks eight and nine seem to run into each other to create one hell of an atmosphere to the latter part of the record. “Footshooter” is a great song on its own, however, it patiently builds to a climatic ending and almost seamlessly flows into “Not Miserable.” The opening verse of “Not Miserable” may be the best part of the song, in that it seems to evoke a familiar image and sound to that of “Floating in the Fourth” which was a pivotal song towards the end of “The Midnight Organ Fight.” Shortly after Hutchison proclaims, “No one knows, I’m not miserable now.” The song ends with an amazing outro that is very dependent on the skillful percussion work of drummer (and brother of lead singer Scott,) Grant Hutchison.

The second to last track on the album, “Living in Colour” is my favorite at this time. It rushes out of the silence from the previous track, with loud guitar strums and a somewhat heavy drum sound. It is within this song, that Hutchison drops the line, “I am soaking, I am weathered by the winter of mixed drinks. Am I dancing? Or am I simply spinning in my own grave.” This line offers more insight into the title of the album, and the meaning becomes even clearer as the chorus states, “Living in colour, living in colour, I can see the paint on your toes. Living in colour, living, and even as I blackout, I know.” This would be a great closer to the album, and as the tenth track it could have easily been the last song. However the final track, “Yes, I would” ends the album with a more somber sound musically, but the lyrics offer more of the hopeful sea/swim imagery that is prevalent throughout the album. Scott Hutchison sings, “I can’t sink now” and that seems to be true as this album is a true progression from their previous efforts, and I believe Frightened Rabbit will continue moving foreword to bigger and better things with each subsequent release.

Recommended If You LikeThe National; We Were Promised Jetpacks; The Twilight Sad; Biffy Clyro


http://www.myspace.com/frightenedrabbit
This review is a user submitted review from KEB182. You can see all of KEB182's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 17
04:21 PM on 05/16/10
#2
glogglies
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Why did it get 3%?
08:38 PM on 05/16/10
#3
owiseone35
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Way to make people read the review and not judge it solely by the rating or you just forgot to do the ratings. Album slowly grew on me and it was worth it. Hutchison's lyrics are superb too, definitely top 10 material.
03:44 AM on 05/17/10
#4
Soberstoner
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What is happening with the author rating here?
10:04 PM on 05/20/10
#5
mymusicismylife
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I like the no ratings. Plus it's an attention getter.

Great band.
10:18 PM on 05/20/10
#6
DI Pistola
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Drop everything and see them live. This might possibly be my AOTY.
11:02 PM on 05/20/10
#7
KEB182
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haha, I forgot to do the ratings...my bad. fixed now.
12:02 AM on 05/21/10
#8
youngmountain
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Absolutely love this album, although i seem to the be the only person that doesn't really enjoy 'Living in Colour'.
03:57 AM on 05/21/10
#9
ayerock
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Absolutely fantastic album, great review. I must admit I do prefer The Midnight Organ Fight, but that might be for sentimental and nostalgic reasons. Nothing Like You is probably the greatest song they've ever written.
Fucking great song
12:37 PM on 05/21/10
bz2911
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awesome record. awesome review.
05:45 PM on 05/21/10
KEB182
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Yeah, why an 8%? That is fucking stupid.

And "Arguably the best song that Frightened Rabbit has ever written, this song seems to encompass the entire theme of this album, as it proclaims, “Let’s call me a Baptist, Call this a drowning of the past. She is there on the shoreline throwing stones, at my back. So swim until you can’t see land. Are you a man, are you a bag of sand?”

I completely argue with this claim. This song [despite its EPIC lyrical content, and I mean that, I truly do] is the most forumlaic song Frightened Rabbit have ever produced. It's such a "radio song" that it kind of disgusts me.

I would venture to say that "Things" is absolutely, hands down, the gem of this record. It's gorgeous. And builds upon itself, recalling "Keep Yourself Warm" from Midnight Organ Fight.

I suppose to each their own, but the structure of "Swim" is just way too easy for this talented band.


The author rating should be fixed, for me it reads 90% now.

As far as "Swim.." goes I respect your opinion - but you're wrong. haha. Seriously though, I think "nothing like you" and "living in colour" are more mainstream "radio" songs then "swim" is. Myself and my friend (who is much better at guitar than I am), have attempted to learn how to play "swim until you can't see land" the way that Scott plays it, and it is super hard to get the chord changes. What do you mean when you say that the structure of the song is too easy? just the verse/chorus/verse structure?
10:15 AM on 05/22/10
KEB182
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Dude, just because a riff is difficult to play doesn't mean the song isn't commercial as shit. Think about it: marketability. How long have you been playing guitar, anyway? And just because a riff is deemed "difficult" by some nebulous AP.net user, makes it true..or makes the song structure "complicated?" Come on man, you gotta think outside the box here. "Swim" sounds like every song ever produced for any commercial gain, and that's why it's a single. If you disagree, well that's your opinion, but you are wrong, indeed. Listen to the integrity of the last album. Every song is sonically layered to convey emotion. Whereas "Swim" is just a pleasant little day time lullaby. I'm not trying to rag on your opinions and whatnot, but you sound like the type of kid who's just gotten into Modest Mouse and thinks that "We've Got Everything" is some progressive new development because it happens to relate to the "now-ness" of Indie Dance Pop, which you may claim to be originated by MGMT. Look back. That's all I'm saying. Look back to when the artist had no motive to pursue anything but their art. Before they "knew" they were good. You'll be surprised at what you find.

Okay, I have a few points to make here.

first of all, you still haven't explained what you think is so "easy" about the song. If it's such an easy song, lets see you write one half as good. I also never said that because the riff is hard, it makes it a good song. It's quite obvious you enjoyed the midnight organ fight more than the new album, and that's fine, but we're going to have to agree to disagree.

Secondly, I'm far from "a kid who just got into modest mouse" however I think "we've got everything" is a good song too.

Also, fuck MGMT.

Nice attempt to make fun of my musical tastes though, especially when you know nothing about them, other than I really enjoy the new Frightened Rabbit album.

and, I've been a fan of Frightened Rabbit for a long time, and spent many hours with the "midnight organ fight" and "sing the greys" so I'm not sure I'll be surprised at what I find when I go back to those albums. Maybe you should get over yourself and look forward, you might be surprised at what you find. It's called progression sir.
12:11 PM on 05/22/10
bz2911
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Dude, just because a riff is difficult to play doesn't mean the song isn't commercial as shit. Think about it: marketability. How long have you been playing guitar, anyway? And just because a riff is deemed "difficult" by some nebulous AP.net user, makes it true..or makes the song structure "complicated?" Come on man, you gotta think outside the box here. "Swim" sounds like every song ever produced for any commercial gain, and that's why it's a single. If you disagree, well that's your opinion, but you are wrong, indeed. Listen to the integrity of the last album. Every song is sonically layered to convey emotion. Whereas "Swim" is just a pleasant little day time lullaby. I'm not trying to rag on your opinions and whatnot, but you sound like the type of kid who's just gotten into Modest Mouse and thinks that "We've Got Everything" is some progressive new development because it happens to relate to the "now-ness" of Indie Dance Pop, which you may claim to be originated by MGMT. Look back. That's all I'm saying. Look back to when the artist had no motive to pursue anything but their art. Before they "knew" they were good. You'll be surprised at what you find.

I must interject after reading some of the comments posted in the past few days. To begin, I must agree that "Things" is a great song, but only in it's ability to set the tone for the rest of the album. To claim that it is "the gem of this record" provides evidence that you either: gave the album a once or twice over and were not happy that Mixed Drinks was not Organ Fight or you have completely missed the intentions of the band to progress from Organ Fight.

Secondly, KEB182 claims that, what you may think is bubble gum bullshit, "Swim..." is a declaration that they have progressed from a sort of sad Scottish quartet to an all around great alternative rock band. To this declaration, I must agree.

As the song progresses, it moves in an airy yet aquatic hum, and is not so much a “day-dream lullaby”. The song is an obvious metaphor to evaluate where Scott Hutchinson is willing to take his life and his future. Swimming from his past (i.e. the ex-girlfriend mentioned numerous times on Organ Fight, and the previous album, itself), as stated in the quote, “Let’s call me a Baptist, Call this a drowning of the past. She is there on the shoreline throwing stones, at my back. So swim until you can’t see land. Are you a man, are you a bag of sand?” is a concrete statement of progression, both emotionally and professionally.

The song may not be the best they’ve ever written; that is only to be left up to personal opinion. However, it absurd to claim that it is a “formulaic” song that should be used for radio prostitution. Read between the lines, and maybe “you’ll be surprised at what you find.”

Thirdly, I see absolutely no correlation between FRabbit and MGMT. MGMT is a pop-electro band with acid-driven lyrics, and trippy synthesizers. Not to mention, they would never have had the success they got in 2008, without producer Dave Freidman. If you haven’t heard of this producer, than your musical “integrity” must be brought into question. He was not a part of Congratulations, which has had far inferior success, despite their “apologies” to their fans.

Modest Mouse, however, is a band that I have been listening to for quite sometime. If you want to talk about band’s selling out, than “We’ve Got Everything” would not be the song to have done that with Modest Mouse. I believe that would be “Float On”. Again, I believe your musical “integrity” must be brought into question for that quip.

Finally, having read many hateful reviews and many positive reviews on Mixed Drinks, your opinions clearly seem to parallel themselves with those of Pitchfork. Having been notoriously critical of all progressions from first albums, such as Midnight Organ Fight. You seem to be one of those people who just do not like progression from, what may be thought of as, the ”original sound.”

As fans of FRabbit, we can all agree that Organ Fight seized our immediate attention, and as a fan of music, I truly fell in love after one or two times through the album. Yet, Mixed Drinks is a much deeper album, with much higher quality than the lo-fi, basement-recorded, post break-up effort that was Organ Fight. So do yourself a favor, and shut the fuck up.
08:24 AM on 05/24/10
lesterCorp.
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I must interject after reading some of the comments posted in the past few days. To begin, I must agree that "Things" is a great song, but only in it's ability to set the tone for the rest of the album. To claim that it is "the gem of this record" provides evidence that you either: gave the album a once or twice over and were not happy that Mixed Drinks was not Organ Fight or you have completely missed the intentions of the band to progress from Organ Fight.

Secondly, KEB182 claims that, what you may think is bubble gum bullshit, "Swim..." is a declaration that they have progressed from a sort of sad Scottish quartet to an all around great alternative rock band. To this declaration, I must agree.

As the song progresses, it moves in an airy yet aquatic hum, and is not so much a “day-dream lullaby”. The song is an obvious metaphor to evaluate where Scott Hutchinson is willing to take his life and his future. Swimming from his past (i.e. the ex-girlfriend mentioned numerous times on Organ Fight, and the previous album, itself), as stated in the quote, “Let’s call me a Baptist, Call this a drowning of the past. She is there on the shoreline throwing stones, at my back. So swim until you can’t see land. Are you a man, are you a bag of sand?” is a concrete statement of progression, both emotionally and professionally.

The song may not be the best they’ve ever written; that is only to be left up to personal opinion. However, it absurd to claim that it is a “formulaic” song that should be used for radio prostitution. Read between the lines, and maybe “you’ll be surprised at what you find.”

Thirdly, I see absolutely no correlation between FRabbit and MGMT. MGMT is a pop-electro band with acid-driven lyrics, and trippy synthesizers. Not to mention, they would never have had the success they got in 2008, without producer Dave Freidman. If you haven’t heard of this producer, than your musical “integrity” must be brought into question. He was not a part of Congratulations, which has had far inferior success, despite their “apologies” to their fans.

Modest Mouse, however, is a band that I have been listening to for quite sometime. If you want to talk about band’s selling out, than “We’ve Got Everything” would not be the song to have done that with Modest Mouse. I believe that would be “Float On”. Again, I believe your musical “integrity” must be brought into question for that quip.

Finally, having read many hateful reviews and many positive reviews on Mixed Drinks, your opinions clearly seem to parallel themselves with those of Pitchfork. Having been notoriously critical of all progressions from first albums, such as Midnight Organ Fight. You seem to be one of those people who just do not like progression from, what may be thought of as, the ”original sound.”

As fans of FRabbit, we can all agree that Organ Fight seized our immediate attention, and as a fan of music, I truly fell in love after one or two times through the album. Yet, Mixed Drinks is a much deeper album, with much higher quality than the lo-fi, basement-recorded, post break-up effort that was Organ Fight. So do yourself a favor, and shut the fuck up.
Although I appreciate what you're trying to say, I have to whole-heartedly disagree with the statement that it's a much deeper album. For me, they lost everything that was deep and meaningful about Midnight Organ Fight. I was promised a more uplifting album, which I was so excited about. I've heard songs like "Yes, I Know" a thousand times and they're a bands attempt to get epic and I can see exactly why they did but it's boring and not what they do best.
Also, does he get the irony of "Not Miserable"???

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