“What’s the blues when you’ve got the greys?” ask Frightened Rabbit. Well, what indeed? Except that the greys sound a little bit dull and uninteresting if you ask me. It turns out that the greys in the hands of Frightened Rabbit are, at times, quite an entertaining proposition.
Like most bands on Fat Cat there is a definite gentle quality to Frightened Rabbit, but don’t let their name fool you. This is not a band that is purely fluffy and in need of running over.
Originally Frightened Rabbit was just a solo project, but now comprises of brothers Scott and Grant, and an additional guitarist. As you might expect there are elements of the band’s singer/songwriter origins shining through. You can only imagine how these songs would have sounded played by a solo performer. As it is, the little extra muscle the drums and additional guitar give these songs mean that Sing The Greys is not an exercise in tweeness.
Sing The Greys kicks things off with a jerky urgent guitar riff. Frightened Rabbit sound in places like The Jam if Paul Weller had been sharing a flat with Morrissey. It’s certainly less winsome than we’d expected.
Music Now introduces itself with a gently thudding bass drum and the chant of “Music Now” sounding not unlike the most polite political protest you’ve ever witnessed. A spiked off-beat guitar riff allows the vocal lines room to breathe and twist around each other delicately. Frightened Rabbit might just have written the only song about independent music that you could play on guitar to a girl you fancy at a party and be fairly sure you’d melt her heart.
Being a Fat Cat album you’d expect a little bit of experimental soundscapes, and through out the record you can hear little snippets of ideas entitled The Incident (there’s three of them). They’re pretty pointless really. It might seem clever at the time, but forty seconds of clever every so often means that Sing The Greys doesn’t flow as well as it might.
No matter because Yawns helps us forget that voyage into self-indulgence. Understated and heartbreaking, this is the story of a relationship breaking down. “She yawns because she’s bored, he yawns because he can’t sleep anymore.” If you find yourself sleeping to avoid having to talk to your significant other, then can I advise you to listen to this song and sort your life out? Heartbreaking though those actions may be, you’ll feel better for it afterwards.
At the midpoint the album starts to sag just a little bit, with songs starting to blend into one another. There’s one last flourish with the incessant brooding melancholy of Square 9 before we discover the real gem of the album. It comes in the form of the bonus live track The Greys, where Frightened Rabbit show themselves as a band that have quite a mean side. Far spikier than the album version the urgency the band inject into the song live makes them sound much more like a punk band than perhaps we would otherwise have expected them to.
Sing The Greys serves very much as an introduction to a band who have the ability to make a truly wonderful album; this isn’t it, but it is a good starting point. From the evidence on display here though, it would appear that the best place to catch Frightened Rabbit is at a gig.