Once news broke of Frightened Rabbit’s move from FatCat to Atlantic, some fans were understandably concerned about whether the Selkirk quintet would lose some of the qualities that endeared them to their loyal following in the first place. It’ll no doubt be a relief to some that their new EP, State Hospital, doesn’t pander too much to radio-friendly hooks and anthems. There’s nothing here that will match the all-round appeal and relative chirpiness of ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’ or ‘Living In Colour’. The only thing that comes close is its epic title track but even that is wrought with its own complexities.
The four remaining tracks are just as powerful. There’s ‘Boxing Night’, a honest and gutsy story that shows how good of a storyteller Scott Hutchison can be (“Good Glasgow could burn to it’s bones tonight and I’d barely blink an eye”). Elsewhere, ‘Off’ is easily the most atmospheric song on the EP; at times it feels like it’s barely there save for guitar and vocals. It ends with ‘Wedding Gloves’, featuring an engrossing spoken word cameo from Aiden Moffat that adds to its rather disturbing vibe.
The State Hospital EP is a bold release that illustrates how confident Frightened Rabbit are at the moment. The promise of a new album with songs better than these is a tantalising prospect.
Words: Max Raymond