I have to say, Eric’s trip to Scotland lined up pretty well with Frightened Rabbit’s sophomore album release, Winter of Mixed Drinks. And since I couldn’t go with Eric to Scotland to see incredible shows and meet wonderful people/be best friends with bands, this is my tribute post, in the form of an album review. Dear Scotland, your music is really good, great even, and I am pretty happy about Frightened Rabbit, so thank you.
If the word has not lost all its meaning to you by now because of its overuse, I contend that Winter of Mixed Drinks is indeed an EPIC album. The intensity of the lyrics, the tension in the chord progressions, the slow, measured construction of layers, and the unceasing rhythmic drive demand it be called what it is. However, I do own a thesaurus, and so the words “monumental” and “colossal” may also be used. There is not a wasted track on this album; it is perfectly refined without losing its edge. Not a single song lacks that passion and sincerity that I demand out of a good album; in order for an album to be “whole,” the listener needs to know that the lyrics mean something to the musician. We don’t want distance. As a person who lives with fierce emotion, I appreciate hearing that emotion elsewhere, rather than just seeing it in myself. Affirmation, connection. Words without a sense of musical genuineness mean almost nothing. If you can write lyrics, but not music…find a friend. What I’m trying to say is…Frightened Rabbit has got it right. They affirm, and to those who aren’t so emotional, they evoke.
So about these lyrics. Painfully romantic homages to loneliness weave through every track, gushing with confessions of loss and weary coping. The imagery moves from dynamic, almost frantic on tracks like “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” and “The Loneliness and the Scream” (It wasn’t me, I didn’t dig this ditch, I was walking for weeks before I fell in) to stagnant exhaustion on “Skip the Youth” (I would but I am so tired, if I can’t shake myself I can’t dance with you). Winter of Mixed Drinks tells of heartbreak with little hope, and I have to think of “Living in Colour” as the light, hoping that based on the title, the listener knows that life moves in seasons, and the winter of mixed drinks, the season of despondency, is not eternal. Force the life through still veins, fill my heart with red again.