Local Wire

Frightened Rabbit

On "I Feel Better," the second track off Frightened Rabbit's breakup diary The Midnight Organ Fight, frontman Scott Hutchison proclaims, "This is the last song I'll write about you." If only. It's these moments of false affirmation and agonizing self-torture — voiced in Hutchison's thick Scottish accent — that make Fight one of the most absorbing (or depressing?) records of 2008. Yes, using song as catharsis for lost love is about as old as music itself. But Hutchison's blunt writing is as refreshing as it is disarming. There are no cryptic metaphors to untangle when he sings, "It takes more than fucking someone you don't know to keep warm." At any moment on the album, Hutchison's fits of self-loathing and/or rage engender sympathy from the listener — both for his emotional state and for those on the other end of his anger. Vengeful thoughts abound on "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms": "I am armed with the past and the will and a brick. I might not want you back but I want to kill him." Producer Peter Katis (The National, Interpol) helps coax a seemingly contradictory brand of charming pop from the music, careful not to undermine the desperate vulnerability for which Hutchison clearly suffered so much.

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Kevin Murphy