For nearly 10 years, Frightened Rabbit's buck – music, lyrics, production – stopped with Scott Hutchison. That worked for three albums, but after the curtain closed on 2010's The Winter of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat Records), Hutchison realized the old work habits weren't cutting it anymore. For Pedestrian Verse (Atlantic), the entire, Glasgow-based band had a hand in writing the music, resulting in its most compelling effort to date.
"It felt like a natural step and the right thing to do, and everyone felt more comfortable as to what their role might be in the band," he says, calling from Stoke-on-Trent in the south of England. "For the benefit of the record and the band, I shouldn't be doing all of this shit on my own."
This new collaborative direction results in a bigger, cleaner, more nuanced sound that provides a cinematic backdrop for Hutchison's jaundiced-yet-hopeful lyrics. As he sings, "While a knight in shitty armor rips a drunk out of her dress ... I'm here, not heroic but I try" on opener "Acts of Man," a spare, Modernist aesthetic booms against Hutchison's Romantic reflections on the corruption of men and the desire to rise above those baser instincts.
"We were making very direct, definite choices as opposed to the last album, where I layered up sound upon sound upon sound and it became a muck," explains Hutchison. "This time there was actual decision making, less experimenting with instrumentation, and more focus on the arrangement rather than just chucking another guitar on."
Just as every president needs a cabinet, Pedestrian Verse proves that a mature creative endeavor needs a multiplicity of voices to help reach its full potential. Even democracy has its limits, though.
"I've invested a lot more time in this project than anyone else, so I've got the final say," Hutchison laughs.
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