Review of Painting Of A Panic Attack Album by Frightened Rabbit

As the winsome voice with a Scottish lilt declares "You died in your sleep last night" little more than sixty seconds in it doesn't take a genius to work out one must be listening to a Frightened Rabbit record. A decade may have passed since debut 'Sing The Greys' landed unceremoniously amidst the flurry of here today, gone tomorrow scenesters but their ability to orate every day tales of (mostly) misery and despair via the medium of music hasn't dissipated.  

Frightened Rabbit Painting Of A Panic Attack Album

Of course it was 2008's follow-up 'The Midnight Organ Fight' that really set the cat amongst the pigeons as it were. A glorious celebration - if you can call it that - of a relationship breaking down piece by piece. Hailed as a masterpiece of its time and perched atop many an end of year list, it's a record that's both helped and hindered its creators future musings. Not least because everything they've subsequently recorded has been compared with that undoubted highpoint of their career thus far.  

Indeed it's been a rockier road than many would have predicted ever since. Both 2010's 'The Winter Of Mixed Drinks' and their last record 'Pedestrian Verse' three years later suffered by way of comparison, and while it would be a tad unfair to judge everything Frightened Rabbit put their name to by 'The Midnight Organ Fight''s impeccably high standards, such casual treats are somewhat inevitable too. 

So, bearing all that in mind, it's no surprise the interim period between albums four and five has seen a line-up change followed by a return to the drawing board as it were. Nearly two years worth of relentless touring eventually took its toll, with the band's future seemingly in doubt at one point. While singer and main songwriter collaborated with fellow Frightened Rabbit cohorts Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell under the moniker Owl John, brother Grant and bass player Billy Kennedy took some time out while guitarist Gordon Skene left the band altogether. 

Nevertheless, having regrouped last year with The National's Aaron Dessner on production duties, album number five slowly began to take shape. One thing that is very noticeable about 'Painting Of A Panic Attack' compared to its predecessors sees the band experimenting sonically more than ever before. Whether that's down to Dessner's involvement or Scott Hutchison's desire to "get out of the comfort zone" after 'Pedestrian Verse' is open to interpretation. But what it means is songs like poignant opener 'Death Dream' and the swashbuckling shoegaze-tinged 'Get Out' open up new estuaries for Hutchison's lyrical asides to flow through. 

However, it is Hutchison's way with words that encapsulate Frightened Rabbit's ethos and he doesn't disappoint for the most part here. "The little drum inside behaves itself until you turn 25" he sings on 'Little Drum', which certainly takes its cue from The National circa 'Trouble Will Find Me'. Likewise 'Still Want To Be Here', which finds the erstwhile narrator at his most vitriolic, insisting, "The perfect place may never exist" before administering a wry "Fuck the faceless homes and everyone who lives in them."

'Woke Up Hurting' and 'I Wish I Was Sober' also make strong cases for being among Frightened Rabbit's finest compositions in years while penultimate number 'Lump Street'; an electronically arranged anthem that demands to be bellowed from the upper echelons of stadiums also earns its corn here. 

One thing that 'Painting Of A Panic Attack' suffers from is being a tad too long, and it tails off into Snow Patrol territory around the midpoint, which renders the likes of 'An Otherwise Disappointing Life' and 'Break' fairly forgettable. Overall though, it's a record the band had to make in order to reinvigorate themselves and for the most part they've succeeded.