Frightened Rabbit | State Hospital EP (Canvasback/Atlantic)

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cd frightened rabbit-epDespite its brevity, the EP delivers a walloping reminder of why this band deserves to be at the top of playlists everywhere.

 

One of my favorite memories of SXSW is the live recording of a set by Frightened Rabbits. We squeezed into the small space, escaping the unseasonably cold weather, and watched through the glass as the band delivered a stunning and personality-laden set to fans new and old. After the buzz-worthy The Winter of Mixed Drinks, the Scottish band is back with State Hospital, a five-song EP that, despite its brevity, delivers a walloping reminder of why this band deserves to be at the top of playlists everywhere.

The title track, a swelling, emotional, and beautiful song, opens the EP. Despite its downer content—"The half back-flip conception, a state hospital birth/ ... /Brought home to breathe smoke in the arms of her mother"—the song ends on a positive note as lead vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist Scott Hutchison promises, "All is not lost." Next up, "Boxing Night" is also downbeat yet strangely uplifting. One of the more charming characteristics of the band is the way Hutchison's strong brogue bleeds through, as it does in spades here. "You can get me at home, I'll be drinking to death/ Just me and these walls and a beaten-up chair." This song is anthemic and building, making you feel it emotionally, too.

"Home from War" is an understatedly galloping song that addresses how people adjust when they come back from battle. "I might never be normal again," Hutchison sings, "but who cares?" While "Off" takes the tempo down a bit too slow for my preference, Frightened Rabbit notches things back up—to Frightened Rabbit standards, anyway—with disc closer "Wedding Gloves." Ex-Arab Strapper Aidan Moffat speaks a few lines before the singing kicks in, with Hutchison's vocals alternating between a quiet falsetto and a near-recitation.

Although it ends too quickly, State Hospital is a beautiful example of what Frightened Rabbit is capable of. If you're already a fan, this is a must-have; if you're new to the band, it's the perfect introduction to one of your new favorites. A- | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: The National, The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks

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