When Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit first appeared on the scene in 2006 with Sing the Greys, their mixture of stripped and grand, intimate & heartfelt, yet also epic, felt refreshing – and oh-so Scottish. But so strong was it that the band inspired other, similar acts amongst their countrymen, such The Twilight Sad (QRO live review) and We Were Promised Jetpacks (QRO live review), two outfits that joined Rabbit on tour and at FatCat Records. 2008 follow-up The Midnight Organ Fight was similarly strong, but also similar, and the band threatened to repeat themselves (such as with that year’s live Liver! Lung! FR! – QRO review) and be repeated, even passed by. Which is why The Winter of Mixed Drinks gives an extra smile, as the band grows and brightens their style.
‘Bright’ is not a word one would have associated with Frightened Rabbit, but the act has never been completely dower Scotsmen. Winter just builds on what sun that does shine over the moors, for a sweeter, more enjoyable sound. It’s unsurprisingly at its best in the two singles, “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” and “Nothing Like You”, plus the track whose lyrics gave the record its name, “Living In Colour”. The brightness of “Swim”, the energy of “Nothing”, and the march-up of “Colour” all give Frightened Rabbit what they needed: a fresh take on the sound they started.
Other pieces on Winter build, but not to the same heights, like “Things” or “The Loneliness and the Scream”. The slightly indietronic backbeat to “The Wrestle” is a nice touch, but the vocals are left not as standout. There’s still some wistfulness in “Skip the Youth”, as well as fuzzy expanse to “FootShooter” and closer “Yes, I Would”, but only the orchestral/choral grandeur, mixed with stripped strings, of “Not Miserable” matches the brightest moments of Winter, as it moves forward & forward. And it’s nice to see that FR have already seen their next path, even as they lay down this one.
MP3 Stream: “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”