This live release from Scottish four-piece Frightened Rabbit captures a July 2008performance, in what sound like the fairly intimate and friendly surroundings of The Captain’s Rest in Glasgow. It is pretty much a straight, mainly acoustic, rendition of their well-received second album The Midnight Organ Fight, with only two tracks omitted (the instrumental Bright Pink Bookmark and Extrasupervery).
As a stop-gap until their next full-length appears (slated for some time this year), this is undoubtedly going to be a fan-pleaser. The songs lose none of their intensity in this format, with the heart-on-sleeve likes of Backwards Walk and Poke still containing a strong emotional kick. They manage to be both melancholy yet strangely uplifting all at the same time; singing about serious subjects like the contemplation of suicide (Floating In The Forth) or religious doubts and scepticism (Heads Roll Off) but still managing to create a positive, sometimes even joyful, response in the listener.
As befits a band who make good use (but not overuse) of sweary lyrics (The Modern Leper, I Feel Better, Keep Yourself Warm), a small amount of the humorously sweary between-song banter has been included. This sustains the”live” feel of the recording, but doesn’t particularly add much else of great interest, apart from the bits where they helpfully introduce guest mandolin player Ross Clark, on Old Old Fashioned, and The Twilight Sad‘s James Graham, who adds guest vocals to Keep Yourself Warm, contributing to what is a highly affecting rendition.
Lead singer Scott Hutchison’s vocal falters a little on I Feel Better, sounding slightly weedy in places, and The Twist sometimes errs more on the side of monotonous than sombre, but these are minor gripes. This stripped-down and intimate setting allows the well-crafted, lyrically complex and emotionally at times pretty raw songs to shine through.
Anyone already in love with tracks such as Good Arms Vs Bad Arms, Backwards Walk and Poke will probably enjoy hearing these live versions, and for others this will serve as a good primer and incentive to go back and discover the original recorded versions.