Frightened Rabbit at Riviera Theatre | Concert preview
Scottish indie-rockers sign to the majors and turn in a team effort.
Frightened Rabbit has operated under a sort of reverse entropy over its ten-year career; it’s now a quintet but started more or less as a one-man-show driven by singer, songwriter and guitarist Scott Hutchison. As the Glasgow-based outfit has added members over the years, it’s taken on a sense of permanence, so that the group heard on Pedestrian Verse, its fourth full-length and first for Atlantic, is a tight, road-honed band with a sweet, rich sound.
Frightened Rabbit’s tone and song-building aesthetic set it firmly within a Scottish pop tradition that goes all the way back to Aztec Camera, Big Country and the Waterboys. There’s a Celtic sweep to Hutchison’s melodies suggesting a subtle romanticism (or in some instances, not so subtle), which serves as a counterpoint to the cynical and lonesome edge of his lyrics. The group has been criticized in the past for being uneven, and while the robust arrangements on Pedestrian are fuller and louder than before, lines like “You’re acting all holy / Me, I’m just full of holes,” aren’t going to make anyone’s list for best wordplay. Yet the best and most chilling songs—“Acts of Man,” “State Hospital” and “December’s Traditions”—measure up to anything the band has ever done.
As the name might imply, Frightened Rabbit creates music with a nervous and isolated quality, but the boldness and consistency of the group’s growing sound adds a little pinch of lionheartedness, and even warmth, which is certain to translate well at the Riv.