The A.V. Club reviews a lot of records every week, but some things still slip through the cracks. Stuff We Missed looks back at notable releases from this year that we didn’t review at their time of release.
Though Frightened Rabbit songs can be uplifting as well, most of them could fairly be described as depressing, with a handful diving into such gorgeously deep despair that they’re like little Scottish black holes. The title track of the State Hospital EP—a stopgap release before next February’s Pedestrian Verse album—reaches high highs via low lows, relaying the story of a “state-hospital birth” who was “born into a grave.” It’s part of a grand tradition of U.K. miserablism, from Arab Strap to The Smiths, and it’s fantastic. And sad.
The rest of State Hospital—only that song will be on the full-length—follows suit, settling nicely in to the tradition Frightened Rabbit established with 2008’s unstoppable The Midnight Organ Fight. “Boxing Night” describes a lonely night of drinking; “Home From War” uses a returning soldier as a metaphor for isolation; the stingingly quiet “Off” revels in an imaginary place without constant devices. (It’s the saddest-sounding track here, but actually the most hopeful.) Finally there’s “Wedding Gloves,” which features speak-singing from Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat, a fine-enough song that also feels like the fifth song on an EP—a place for fans only.
Frightened Rabbit sits now at the same precipice tourmate Death Cab For Cutie did a decade ago: with a major-label deal in place and a widening audience anticipating a new full-length. If these songs are any indication, things will stay as gloriously sad as ever, but gain some sonic strength and polish.