Frightened Rabbit (photo by Dan Massie)
Painting Of A Panic Attack
Atlantic/Canvasback Music Records
Three years ago, the Scottish band Frightened Rabbit enjoyed their biggest commercial success with their major label debut, Pedestrian Verse. Now comes their fifth album, the ominously-titled Painting Of A Panic Attack.
Frightened Rabbit toured extensively in support of Pedestrian Verse. When the band came off the road, its members took some time to evaluate what they had accomplished up to that point and what they might do next. It was during this period that Frightened Rabbit parted ways with guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist Gordon Skene, who had joined the group in 2009.
Frontman Scott Hutchison moved from Glasgow to Los Angeles and recorded and released a self-titled album as Owl John. Touring guitarist Simon Liddell joined the band as a full-time member. By 2015, the stage had been set for the band’s next phase. With a desire to explore new musical territory on their next album, Frightened Rabbit—which also includes Scott's brother Grant Hutchison on drums, multi-instrumentalist Billy Kennedy, and guitarist Andy Monaghan—asked The National's Aaron Dessner to produce. Taking into account the dramatic tendencies of their music, hooking up with a member of the National as their producer was a sensible choice for Frightened Rabbit.
While the music on Painting Of A Panic Attack is collectively written by all five members of the band, with a couple of contributions from Dessner, Scott Hutchison writes all the lyrics. Throughout the album, he creates moods that includes melancholy, unrest and anxiety, countered with glimpses of hope, as on the song “Still Want To Be Here.” There is a sense of dread that is felt in the album’s first song, “Death Dream.” Hutchison’s writing possesses an unswerving honesty that this is evidenced on “I Wish I Was Sober,” “An Otherwise Disappointing Life,” and the exquisite, acoustic “Die Like A Rich Boy.”
With Dessner guiding the way, Painting Of A Panic Attack is a grand and expansive album with sonics that allow the band’s musicality to shine, delivering Scott Hutchison’s words and vocals in a rich fashion.