Sound — 8
As Frightened Rabbit's major label debut, "Pedestrian Verse" is an album looking to burst out of the shadow of greatness from the bands 2nd album "Midnight Organ Fight" while also proving it is not sold it's soul to the man signing to Atlantic. I am pleased to say that this new release is definitely the same Frightened Rabbit angst and heartbreak we know and love, but however, I would venture to say they fall short of surpassing "Midnight Organ Fight". Yet, this album is certainly a jump forward from their last album, "The Winter Of Mixed Drinks". "Pedestrian Verse" is filled with the sentiments of personal anguish, struggles with love/loss and depression that are lacking in their previous release. To me, those feelings are the meat & potatoes of Frightened Rabbit. As far as sound goes, I would not say FR is breaking any new ground. They have stuck more or less to their reliable formula of roughly hewn verses combined with melodic soaring choruses, occasionally paired with a angelic choir. While it is not a new sound, it is a sound I still love and will probably never tire of. The building outro of their closing song "Oil Slick" nearly brings me to tears whenever I listen to it, simply from how it grabs you somewhere deep in your heart and tugs at your emotions like no other band does for me! Meanwhile, I would venture that the song which will stun most people with its emotion is "Nitrous Gas", which is so striking, you may find yourself staring out a window, pondering your very existence, all while enjoy that track. Yet, through these great songs, there are a few duds. "December's Traditions" and "Backyard Skulls" are two of my least favorite songs, falling a bit outside the range of what I would expect from FR.
Lyrics — 9
When it comes to Scott Hutchinson's lyrics, you know you will always get a wild ride from them, and this new album is no exception. What is different this time in "Pedestrian Verse" is that he brought his bandmates in to assist, which is something he had not done on other albums. I would say the results are fantastic. One of the most playful songs is "Oil Slick", which is almost a self-reflective poke at Hutchinson's own insecurities, especially where he sings "I've got a voice like a gutter in a toxic storm"; then he goes on to decry his ability as a songwriter, saying "Only an idiot would swim through the sh-t I write". I was certainly pleased to hear FR could light-heartedly joke about themselves. Meanwhile, in the song "Holy", we get some classic Hutchinson play-on-words deepness with the line, "You're acting all holy, me, I'm just full of holes". Finally, in the opening track, Hutchinson belts out in his best alto that, "I am that d-ckhead in the kitchen/ Giving wine to your best girl's glass". Frightened Rabbit has always appealed to me lyrically for not taking themselves too seriously and also being deep and dark in a way a death metal bands could envy. If you share those sentiments with me, this album will not disappoint. However, the song "Backyard Skulls" annoyed me a bit because mostly, I think skulls are so cliche these days. Kids putting skulls on their t-shirts and bags make them think they are edgy. Likewise, simply singing about skulls does not make you edgy either. In my opinion, more deepness, less skulls.
Overall Impression — 8
On a whole, "Pedestrian Verse" is exactly what I was hoping for. I refuse to continue to hold all of FR's subsequent albums to the high standard of "Midnight Organ Fight" ["MOF"]. No band can achieve perfection every time. So, with "Pedestrian Verse" I say, this album is great. It is not perfect, but I received many of the warm tingly feelings listening to some of these songs as I did from the best songs from "MOF". Does that mean it is as good. No. But is it still in the same vein and will it still move you in a similar way. YES! Songs like "Nitrous Gas", "Oil Slick" and "Holy", by themselves, make this album for me. Everything else is just gravy. If you already love Frightened Rabbit, of course you will love this. If you have not yet discovered this band, go listen to "MOF". If you like that, then pick this one up. You will not regret it.