As part of a Record Store Day special on April 20th, we captured Louis, Kevin, and Sarah of Scottish folk-pop heavyweights Admiral Fallow for a session on the day that the band released a limited run of their acclaimed (longlisted for the 2013 SAY Award) second LP ‘Tree Bursts In Snow’ on vinyl for the first time to commemorate RSD 2013.
We chatted with the band about their formation, having to start the applause themselves at grim open mics, plus the evolution of their writing process and their eclectic assortment of instruments used in the past, present and future.
Admiral Fallow’s SAY Award long-listed LP ‘Tree Bursts In Snow’ is available to purchase from Nettwerk Records via their website.
Admiral Fallow – Beetle In The Box (Live on In Session)
Admiral Fallow – Oh, Oscar (Live on In Session)
Admiral Fallow – Guest Of The Government (Live on In Session)
In Session broadcasts live on Freshair.org.uk every Saturday from 6-7pm featuring a plethora of the hottest new music from the Scottish scene, a roundup of recent and upcoming gigs, and, of course, a guest performing live in the studio.
“There is light but there’s a tunnel to crawl through” In an interview with Lily and me for In Session in August last year, Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison explained that ‘Pedestrian Verse’, the band’s fourth studio album, was going to be a necessary step out of his comfort zone. This was not because the band were partnering with Atlantic Records, their first major label, having called time on an illustrious relationship with Fat Cat Records which spawned three records, including the sublime ode to
embittered lovers ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’. No, Pedestrian Verse marks the evolution of Frightened Rabbit, the band, as Scott relinquishes his monopoly over songwriting to produce a more collaborative record. “With the last one,” he told In Session (the interview in full can be found here), “I started to get bored of my own habits in writing.” Scott referred, by “the last one” to the warmly received 2010 release ‘The Winter of Mixed Drinks’. “In opening the writing up – not the lyrics, the music – to the rest of the band, it’s a lot more interesting and you can hear everyone else’s input. It’s a lot less my project and more of a band now really.” Pedestrian Verse certainly sounds like a Frightened Rabbit album only… different. The great appeal of Scott’s songwriting remains omnipresent and, like Midnight Organ Fight and The Winter of Mixed Drinks, the band continues to marry, to quote Scott, “uncomplicated music with reasonably complicated themes” and “weird, twisted lyrics to what is essentially a pop song”. Fundamentally, the band’s affinity with musical juxtaposition remains in songs like Backyard Skulls, an anthemic ditty about macabre suburban secrets sung over an exuberant backing track. However, Pedestrian Verse truly reflects the band maturing in their sound, moving towards a richer, symphonic arrangement which one assumes has been brought forth through a combination of the new collaborative songwriting process and major label influence. Frightened Rabbit’s musical arrangements now experiment with pacing, tone and a touch of reverb. Pedestrian Verse sheds the folk influences from their sound and eases towards gloomy anthemic rock songs. That is not to say that they are on their way to standing alongside The Twilight Sad in that respect, far from it. At a stretch, you can hear echoes of Interpol lurking in the chorus of the devastatingly bleak ‘December Traditions’ as Scott refrains: “It’s not the answer, I’m just begging to be told/ What do you need, what do you need from me?” December Traditions best demonstrates the pacing at play, as the backing drums and guitars hold the line throughout Scott’s lonely lament, before staggering out in defiance: “Love’s labour stains a linen sheet/ The ghostly body who makes his bed beside you/ Is slowly losing teeth”, Scott sings. The changes are numerous yet subtle, but they reveal themselves quite clearly when held up to the light of the band’s previous offerings. Production values have noticeably increased, naturally. Stand-out songs The Woodpile and State Hospital sound slicker, grander, with an almost cinematic quality behind them that drives lyrics through your chest as the songs unfold with orchestral flourishes. I can’t help but think songs like those and the extraordinarily blunt album closer Oil Slick (blunt even by Scott’s standards) would have lost their impact if they had come during The Winter of Mixed Drinks, where the poppy backing got out of hand. The pacing is very deliberate on Pedestrian Verse and the instrumentals are now over their identity crisis; the band saves the raucous energy, using it only when necessary, in favour of a more reserved slow build that champions the band as whole. Pedestrian Verse is an album of songs that beg to be sung on the grandest stage. It signals a triumphant return to the dizzy heights they set themselves with The Midnight Organ Fight. Good to have you back, boys. originally posted on www.blastocyst.org.uk