“I am that dickhead in the kitchen…” – as an opening gambit in the Selkirk-formed five-piece’s highest profile, highest stakes record to date, this opening line is probably up there with the best of ‘em.
Early disappointment that it isn’t a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall concept album aside, Frightened Rabbit come out fighting on Pedestrian Verse. Having nailed their lyrical intentions to the mast – firstly through the title of album number four, then through every second line in every interview – the only thing left is to hammer home some substance.
‘Acts of Man’ does just that and sets a stark scene. ‘Backyard Skulls’ drops the pace but ups the anthem and bass-driven ‘Holy’ divines the first hit: “You’re acting all holy, and me I’m just full of holes”.
‘Woodpile’ is another cracker; a rich, romantic, ramble, and ‘Late March, Death March’ is a buoyant brawl that comes closest to realising the previously premature Arcade Fire comparisons. There’s no question that this is progress from Winter of Mixed Drinks. Given that they had the right ingredients to start with, the addition of “sunlight and a shot of modesty” creates a confident cocktail.
‘Dead Now’ has a lazy, bassy slug to it and a bittersweet bite which reminds me of The Cure and makes me want to drink gin, click my fingers and phone everyone who’s ever pissed me off and tell them what I think of them. ‘State Hospital’ is another epic effort; striking and soaring, packing more imagery into four and a half minutes than some bands do in a career. I can barely even believe they finished writing it; I’d give myself the day off after coming up with every second line.
‘Nitrous Gas’ is probably the simplest track on the album; a heartfelt ballad that will have couples greetin’ all round the world while ‘The Oil Slick’ might just be one of their most polished pop songs they’ve ever written, an appropriately assured finale. Slick production, not a single word out of place, towering and anthemic. Frightened Rabbit fans will quite rightly worship this, but more importantly, it has all the ingredients to make everybody else sit up and take notice.