Single Review: Frightened Rabbit – Death Dream

By on Tuesday, 23rd February 2016 at 11:00 am

Scottish alt-rockers Frightened Rabbit have just unveiled the first track from their upcoming new album ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’. Titled ‘Death Dream’, the new song does indeed have a hazy, indistinct quality about it, one that almost immediately (and somewhat to my dismay) reminded me of Bon Iver. But although frontman Scott Hutchison’s vocals are markedly lighter here than what we usually hear from him, he doesn’t mimic Justin Vernon’s unintelligible falsetto. Instead, he opts for a soft, even-keeled dynamic throughout the song, while distant backing vocals and a delicately layered instrumental arrangement create depth without becoming heavy or unwieldy, as we often heard on Frightened Rabbit’s previous LP ‘Pedestrian Verse’.

In contrast to its airy musical arrangement, the lyrics to ‘Death Dream’ are, true to Hutchison’s signature form, both starkly illustrative and emotionally weighty. The lines “a still life / is the last I will see of you / my painting of a panic attack” give the album its title, and Hutchison himself says that “the title, as with the song, is intended as a beautiful depiction of something horrific”. But some of the song’s other lyrics stand out as more horrifying in terms of their imagery. Poetic descriptions such as “an open mouth / a scream that makes no sound” and “blood seems black / against the skin on your porcelain back” pierce through the sheer and shadowy soundscape laid out behind them in a startlingly vivid fashion.

‘Death Dream’ isn’t as immediate or powerful as I might have expected from Frightened Rabbit, especially since their album has been almost 2 years in the making. However, the subtle interplay between the music and the lyrics is intriguing enough to arouse my curiosity about what else might be in store on the full LP.


Frightened Rabbit’s upcoming new album ‘Painting of a Panic Attack’ was recorded in Brooklyn with producer Aaron Dessner of The National and is due out on the 8th of April via Canvasback / Atlantic. The band haven’t yet announced UK tour dates in support of the new album, but you can find a full listing of North American tour dates on their official Facebook.


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