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Frightened Rabbit: Pedestrian Verse (Atlantic) 

After three records that made the most of Scott Hutchison's reliably confessional lyrics, Frightened Rabbit turns the songwriting focus outward, capturing more of life's struggles than those of the heart.

Musically, the Scottish band retains its natural charisma and instincts for grand, buoyant indie rock, while adjusting its sound to allow for more layers and dynamic arrangements that subtly play to the emotional substance of Hutchison's lyrics. The songs play out sometimes like ministories, zeroing in on crucial moments. Sometimes with narrative omniscience, other times from more of a voyeuristic point of view, Hutchison explores difficult times in search of people's core motivations.

"Acts of Man" begins simply, with a piano and Hutchison singing in falsetto: "I am that dickhead in the kitchen/ Giving wine to your best girl's glass." The drums and guitars push the song forward and Hutchison pivots to render that despicable character as someone more self-aware, not bound by his faults but fighting against them. "The Woodpile" applies the metaphor of being trapped in a collapsed building to social anxiety. "State Hospital" is the "all is not lost" story of a determined girl dealt hardships at every turn.

The songs continue in that vein, heavy subject matter that's thought-provoking but never in the way of Frightened Rabbit's sound, a tip-toeing-to-the-edge-of-grandiosity rock that's both ripe for arenas and perfect for headphones.

The Midnight Organ Fight and The Winter of Mixed Drinks marked Frightened Rabbit as an exciting band to watch. Pedestrian Verse is the band's best work yet, completing that ascendancy and cementing Frightened Rabbit as an A-list band.

More by Eric Swedlund

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