The Winter of Mixed Drinks looks set to be the album that launches Frightened Rabbit to the level of recognition they have long deserved. Despite gaining some recognition stateside upon the release of 2008’s Midnight Organ Fight, the band never really became the household name expected. With the first single, and standout track Swim Until You Cant See Land gaining widespread acclaim, 2010 looks like being a big year for Frightened Rabbit. However, while the Selkirk boys may not have sold their soul for commercial success (as other Scottish groups have done in recent years) they have harnessed a certain sound, neglecting some of the magic which made Midnight Organ Fight so special.
The band have bulked up with the addition of Gordon Skene and with the use of more varied instrumentation with a clear emphasis on creating an orchestral backdrop to encompass a much bigger, almost cinematic sound. But bigger isn’t always better. The Loneliness and The Scream, Nothing Like You and Living in Colour all prove the band have mastered the foot-tapping, hands-in-the-air acoustic indie sound, an accolade already apparent from the likes of The Modern Leper, The Twist and I Feel Better.
But what about those stirring emotional ballads which made Midnight Organ Fight really stick in the memory? Good Arms vs. Bad Arms, Fast Blood, Poke, these songs oozing with post break-up pain and anger revealed the lyrical poignancy and vocal range of frontman Scott Hutchison. The Wrestle and Foot Shooter reassure that this ability to write beautiful music isn’t lost, but rather put into the background.
The Winter of Mixed Drinks is a very good album, and it symbolises a progression for Frightened Rabbit. The sound is more polished and the songs are more layered. While this will undoubtedly attract hordes of new fans, this stadium-filler album may disappoint those who were sucked in by the charm of Frightened Rabbits raw, stripped down sound.