State Hospital is the latest EP from Scottish folk rockers Frightened Rabbit. A collection of tracks which whilst signposting a new direction for the band, weren’t necessarily a natural fit for their as yet unreleased fourth album. At times dissonant, the tracks on the EP are nestled nicely between the folky styling of the band’s earlier work, and the rockier style of their latest album. Despite added distortion and echoed instrumentation, the sound is still distinctively that of Frightened Rabbit.
Scott Hutchinson once again shows his pedigree as a songwriter, with some brilliant lyrically quips. Though the band’s sound has become more expansive and cinematic, Hutchinson’s vocals and lyrics have lost none of their sharpness or striking bleakness. In fact the at times upbeat instrumentation belies the austerity of the lyrics.
“State Hospital” is undeniably the highlight of the EP, which stands to reason, being the only of the five tracks set to make it onto the upcoming album. It’s one of those tracks that you could happily place on repeat, and not tire of. Musically it’s similar to a selection of tracks on the Winter of Mixed Drinks album with slow burning guitars and interweaving synths. Whilst the other tracks on the album are equally worthy of attention, my other favourite is the final track “Wedding Gloves” which features an inspired spoken word performance from Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat. Moffat’s rich baritone ensuring the track doesn’t really sound like anything else the band has produced.
State Hospital is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, one that grows on you with each subsequent listen. It’s also got me suitably excited for the forthcoming album. The only problem is we have to wait until early next year for it to be released.
Review Score: 8.9 out of 10