On its fourth studio album and first major label release, Scottish quintet Frightened Rabbit—comprised of Scott Hutchinson on vocals, Grant Hutchison on drums, Billy Kennedy and Andy Monaghan on guitars and bass and Gordon Skene on guitars and keyboards—offers 12 tracks that are much closer to a rock record than ever before. And like September’s strong State Hospital EP, Pedestrian Verse subsequently sounds more complete than the band’s previous efforts.
The album is a little less jittery and a bit more streamlined. It’s lighter on the frenetic acoustic strumming and balanced by melodies played by electric guitars like in second single “The Woodpile.” The keyboards, too, play a more prominent role, particularly in the metaphorical (or maybe not?) “Backyard Skulls.”
Lyrically, Hutchinson holds nothing back on Pedestrian Verse. His self-deprecating cynicism—a staple of all Frightened Rabbit songs—pervades the record, as the first falsetto-laden words offered are “I am a dickhead in the kitchen.” And in “Dead Now,” Hutchinson sings, “There’s something wrong with me” and heartily delivers it as a refrain.
The strongest part of Pedestrian Verse actually comes at the end of the album in the form of the last few songs. “State Hospital” captures the essence of the band’s past and present, both musically and sentimentally. “Nitrous Gas” is a lovely minimalistic ballad, and closer “Oil Slick” is driven by rolling snare hits and sliding guitar riffs. But while Pedestrian Verse feels like the most comprehensive Frightened Rabbit LP in the band’s nearly 10-year career, it also forgoes some of the band’s restless charm in the process.