With every Frightened Rabbit album, their sound becomes bigger and more emotional and that’s the case again on fifth studio album Painting of a Panic Attack. But Scott Hutchison’s lyrics and vocals stop it becoming just another “Big Music” album. Not that there’s anything wrong with Big Music, but there’s already plenty of bands doing that and doing it very well. The lyrics are personal, there’s no grand themes here, despite the sound of the album. They’re perhaps a bit more positive than on previous albums, but there’s still enough grim reality to keep it Frightened Rabbit. One of the best aspects of the album is when those negative lyrics are set to the most anthemic sounding songs.
The opening song on the album is one of the stand-outs; Death Dream starts out forlorn with mainly just piano, then it builds gradually with layered vocals, a unique guitar sound, strings, and some Beirut style horns, until it reaches a stunning but understated crescendo. The strings and horns return to even greater effect later on Little Drum.
The second track is single Get Out, where the abruptness of the chorus comes as a bit of a shock first time, but after the second listen makes sense. It’s one of the more positive songs on the album, a love song, but not that you’d know it on first listen.
The best examples of the anthemic songs with a sombre message are the “twin” tracks I Wish I Was Sober and Woke Up Hurting, whose titles speak for themselves. Then there’s the positive stories, but with a twist of course, like Still Want To Be Here (“Fuck these faceless homes and everyone who lives in them, But I still want to be here, want to be here”) and the hilariously backhanded compliment An Otherwise Disappointing Life.
Another stand-out is 400 Bones; not your conventional love song, but lyrically beautiful (“This is my safe house in the hurricane, here is where my love lays 200 treasured bones”).
Break and Blood Under the Bridge are probably as close to pop as the album gets, both are very melodic and radio friendly (musically at least).
The album ends with Die Like a Rich Boy -a suitably grim ending for a classic Frightened Rabbit album.
(There’s a deluxe version of the album with three extra tracks, which are all excellent and make it worth getting the more expensive download or any of the physical formats.)