The Winter Of Mixed Drinks review by Frightened Rabbit

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  • Released: Mar 1, 2010
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.3 (15 votes)
Frightened Rabbit: The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
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Sound — 8
The first thing that can be said of this album is that it had a lot to live up to. Frightened Rabbit's third effort, "The Winter of Mixed Drinks", comes 3 years after the international success of their previous album The Midnight Organ Fight, or just "TMOF" to those more familiar with it. While TMOF had a striking intensity of sound that would almost make you weep with each subsequent listen, The Winter of Mixed Drinks is decidedly a bit more mellow in sound and lost a bit of the angry edge. Furthermore, songs such as Swim Until You Can't See Land, The Wrestle and Living In Colour surprisingly venture quite far into the pop-iness scale. However, the mellowness and pop-iness never tip the scale to a fault. Enough edge is present to make you not feel like they are pandering to fans of The Fray. On the other hand, this album preserves the dramatic tone of a whilstful soundscape dominated by reverbed OOOH's and AAAH's, which to me is almost Frightened Rabbit's hallmark. While songs with massively arching crescendos like The Modern Leper from TMOF are absent, there are a few songs on Winter of Mixed Drinks that come close to giving me that same "hair-standing-up-on-your-neck" upon first listen. My personal favourites are Skip the Youth, The Loneliness and the Scream, and FootShooter.

Lyrics — 10
As with TMOF, the lyrics are nearly as deep as the Scottish brogue Scott Hutchinson sings them in. Many have argued Winter of Mixed Drinks is about happiness. On the contrary, I think this album is about death. In the opening song "Things", Scott ponders his earthly possessions, remarking "things are only thing" and that "all you need's a coffin and your Sunday best" in the end. Meanwhile, in "Skip the Youth", Huchtison continues on his theme of death with the line, "All I need is a place to lie, guess a grave will have to do". Then, in "The Wrestle", an unknown protagonist experiences a deadly struggle with an unknown foe where he describes, "They tore me limb from limb, there is blood there is gristle, I'm dispairing!" Finally, in "Yes I Would", Hutchison remarks how "the loss of a lonely man never makes much of a sound". While many other themes poke up through this album, like social embarrassment [FootShooter], Scott's beloved North Sea [Swim Until You Can't See Land] and relationships [Nothing Like You], I still believe Hutchison is hugely pre-occupied with writing lyrics about death, dying, and the macabre. And personally, I love it!

Overall Impression — 8
One of the most important questions that will get asked about this album is "Was there musical growth here?". The honest answer: Not much, admittedly. Is it a better album than TMOF? Certainly not. From talking to many people and from my own opinion, this album needs to grow on you. It will not knock you down on the first listen like TMOF did. Yet I knew that it wouldn't and I didn't expect it to. But if you loved everything about TMOF, you will also love everything about The Winter of Mixed Drinks. This album is heart-wrenching. It will sing you to sleep. The ubiquitous repeated outro-choruses will lull you into submission each time they wrestle you to the ground. Frightened Rabbit is on of the best sounds coming out of Scotland now. You will not regret giving this album a chance!

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Ali&Audio
    Haha you have interpreted 'The Wrestle' a little wrongly my friend. It is infact an extended metaphor about sex. I think: 'The crumpled ocean' - bedsheets 'Shape stirs beneath me' - woman 'Pulse burns along bloodstreams' - erect 'The first bite marks, the beginning of the clotheless wrestle, with the clotheless animal.' - lovebites/sex 'my eater' - woman again Also, most of these songs aren't about Scott. They're about a protagonist, as Scott himself has mentioned many a time in various interviews.
    The 7.18
    Good album, but it doesn't reach the level of The Midnight Organ Fight, it's about on par with Sing The Greys, but the greys is a more moving album I think.
    ak10
    This band would be huge if they were able to keep their irishness under control. Dont mean to offend, I like a lot of their songs, but they continously go hard irish on some of the vocals which make it a little less pleasant to listen to. They should take a lesson from u2 and try to sing differently than they talk, just saying, they would probably have a lot more mass appeal.
    whatiaminstead
    ak10 wrote: This band would be huge if they were able to keep their irishness under control. Dont mean to offend...just saying, they would probably have a lot more mass appeal.
    Don't mean to offend, but they probably don't care all that much about mass appeal and count their SCOTTISH (not Irish) heritage as being an integral part of their music - I know it makes me enjoy the music more. Just sayinh.
    ak10
    I dont mean to sound like I am talking about vocal gentrification, so to speak, it is a postive thing to have those accents, I am just saying they would probably benifet from vocally sounding more like Gavin Rossdale(who is also Scottish) compared to Scrooge Mc'Duck. Dont get me wrong, i am a fan of this band, I own their cds, I just know I would personally like them more if they could control it a little more sometimes. Again, I hope I didnt offend anyone or their culture, that just my personal opinion.
    whatiaminstead
    i hear that too, and i didn't mean to cut you out of your opinion - but i do find it refreshing that this is a band that puts their art above commercial success.