A prime example of a band that I appreciate, understand, but don’t really listen to, is Mumford & Sons. I don’t have a thing against them. I Will Wait is a great single, and you can’t deny the expert songwriting on The Cave. It simply leaves me wanting – something. Something that I can’t even put my finger on.
Maybe it’s the bluegrass influence. To each his own, and it’s simply not for me.
I wanted something with a little more “oomph”. Something that just pushed the music sonically a little father. Pedestrian Verse is Frightened Rabbit’s fourth release, and the more I listened, the more the following statement became clearer to me:
“This is what I want out of Mumford & Sons that I’m not getting. This is the extra punch that I am looking for.”
Frightened Rabbit have certainly evolved with this one. Earlier releases didn’t have the stadium-ready sound that Pedestrian Verse has, and I have no doubt that they’ve listened to Babel a couple times over to incorporate this fuller experience. Now, this isn’t to say they’ve become a Mumford clone – not even close! But on tracks like Nitrous Gas, Housing (in), and the kicking second single The Woodpile, I’m sure you’ll hear the influence. They’d be magnificent tour mates.
A wonderful attribute about about leader and primary lyricist Scott Hutchison (FR started out as a solo project) is that he knows he’s just a normal guy, and he cuts no corners about his failures. “I am the dickhead in the kitchen / giving wine to your best girl’s gloves / I am the amateur pornographer / Unpleasant publisher about hand”, he states in the opening lines of the first track, over an old piano that’s certainly been sitting in the back corner of a bar for far too long. Who’s really expecting to hear that for the first lines of a record? Care to give us a little more, Scott? You must think you’re the perfect catch, mate? Obviously not. “I have never wanted more, to be your man / And build a house around you / I am just like the rest of them / Sorry, selfish, trying to improve”, he closes with. There is no bigger attribute that one can claim to have other than honestly. What do you have without it? December’s Traditions, The Oil Slick, and countless others simply ooze with it.
The Woodpile is easily the biggest song on the record, as it doesn’t hold back to rally a crowd with their raised hands shouting along, “Will you come back to my corner? / Spent too long alone tonight / Will you come and brighten my corner? / A lit torch to the woodpile high”. Fire ignites passion, which ignites a worldwide desire. You can’t go wrong. There’s even a Frightened Rabbit guitar solo! Radio, radio; please pick this up. Fans of past releases will certainly sense this change in sound: we don’t have songs in the vein of 2008’s My Backwards Walk, which while being wonderfully written, I don’t see getting played in the top-4o anytime soon. Here, we have songs that have that ability, and from what I see, zero credibility has had to be sacrificed. This record isn’t necessarily better than 2008’s The Midnight Organ Fight; only different and more expanded. It certainly is an improvement, however, over 2010’s hit or miss The Winter of Mixed (you can say that again) Drinks.
The tale of Frightened Rabbit began with Mr. Hutchison when he was a young boy, as a nickname that his mother gave him because he was overly shy, always hiding out in the house, not wanting to be as social with the other children. No, he’s not a child anymore, but four records in, he’s now standing at the top of the jungle gym with his arms outstretched; soul bared.
If you had to listen to two tracks: The Woodpile / Late March, Death March