At times ramshackled and worn in, others grand and explosive, Glaswegian trio Frightened Rabbit’s sophomore release, THE MIDNIGHT ORGAN FIGHT, due April 15 on Fatcat Records (Animal Collective, Sigur Ros, No Age), is a testament to the band’s scope and ambition. The album comes on the heels of their acclaimed debut LP, SING THE GREYS, which was revamped and re-released last fall on Fatcat.
Recorded in Bridgeport, Conn., far from the band’s homeland, the Scottish threesome slugged out the 14 tracks in just two weeks with veteran producer Peter Katis, best known for his work with Interpol, The National and fellow countrymen and friends The Twilight Sad. Conceived and realized in far less time than its predecessor, the whirlwind process has resulted in an album that is equally as cohesive as it is immediate.
While the record retains much of the band’s rough-edged charm, as evidenced on opening track “The Modern Leper” and the twangy “Old Old Fashioned,” it is the band’s newfound sonic muscle, which clearly stands out. Songs like “Fast Blood,” “Keep Yourself Warm” and “My Backwards Walk,” showcase the bigger side of the trio’s sound – sweeping melodies, tinkling keys, cascading drums and a great use of space, ultimately convey the sadness of a lonely, frigid Scottish night. Lyrically, the band continues to deliver incisive social commentary, fervent relationship woes and existential thought. First single, “Head Rolls Off,” begins with the protagonist exclaiming in his Scottish brogue: “Jesus is just a Spanish boy’s name, how come one man got so much fame?/ To any me, it’s pointless to anybody who doesn’t have faith,” keeping the band’s outlook on faith and mortality intact.
The roots of Frightened Rabbit can be traced back to 2003 when surname-less Scott (vocals/guitar) began performing solo in and around Glasgow, supporting fellow art-schoolers. Then, he rudimentarily recorded his sparse, lo-fi songs on a 4-track recorder, playing each instrument himself. Now a three-piece, Scott is joined by his brother Grant (drums/vocals) and Billy (guitar/keys). The lack of a bassist is seemingly unnoticed as Scott and Billy augment each other’s playing, using inventive guitar interplay to add weight or create a low end.
Having built a fierce reputation back home, Frightened Rabbit demonstrated their prowess stateside this past October when they toured the Midwest and West Coast with Pinback. They headlined several gigs along the East Coast, including a sold-out Mercury Lounge show before their debut was available in the states. This March, the band is headed to Austin for the annual South by Southwest Music Festival where they are slated for several shows including the Scottish Arts Council showcase. A full U.S. spring tour is currently in the works.