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As the water begins to ripple in anticipation for their fourth studio-album release reportedly coming in early 2013, fans of the Glasgow-originated quintet Frightened Rabbit are thrown a figurative lifeline in the form of State Hospital. Long–time fans have yet to see a full-length album since March 2010, with the generally positive reviewed Winter of Mixed Drinks. Since then, the band has only released one other EP, which could only be grabbed at one of their shows, if you felt uninspired to receive the free copy by signing up for their newsletter. So, as one can imagine, fan’s hope and patience may have begun to dwindle in the past years.
Well, for lack of better words, this EP screams, “We’re back, and better than ever!” The long wait has not gone unaccounted for, as Frightened Rabbit show us a more mature, unified sound than ever before. Scott Hutchison’s accent-lathered voice is at its finest here, singing over lyrics that he has admitted, as opposed to the band’s previous albums, have been written collaboratively with the rest of the band as opposed to by himself. They have kept that dark, gloomy style of the past and mixed with a more layered, complex sound that reverberates all the way down to your soul.
The opening and title track, “State Hospital”, sets that perfect, story-telling mood that fans have come to adore in Frightened Rabbit’s music. The reverbed guitar, pounding drums, slight back-round synth, and echoing vocals that abruptly kick in at the beginning of that first song give reassurance to the listener that the band is far from dead, but instead fueled with a renewed sense of vivaciousness. Complex lyricism and composition alike bring such a raw and alive feel to each song, as Hutchison sings metaphors like, “Her heart breaks like a breeze block thrown down the stairs” and “Her blood is thicker than concrete” over layers upon layers of instrument tracks.
“Boxing Night” seems to be the only exception to that usual somber mood, as the furious strumming on the acoustic guitar accompanies more of a pub-song inspired vocal track. Aside from that, “Home From War”, “Off”, and “Wedding Gloves” all follow that traditional calm, yet eerie mood that has become so recognizable with Frightened Rabbit. The one other unorthodox decision that is bound to catch the attention of listeners is in the final track, “Wedding Gloves”, where a guest appearance is made by Aidan Moffat in order to do a portion of the song in spoken-word.
The effort is clearly there, not only in that song, but in the whole album. Frightened Rabbit want to prove that all the waiting hasn’t been for nothing, and this EP does just that. The sweet after-taste comes with the fact that as brilliant as these songs are, they are actually the songs that Rabbit didn’t want on the album, but also didn’t want to declare as B-sides. Simply put, if this was just the appetizer, one can only imagine how brilliant the main course will be when it comes out early next year.