Opening softly, a piano ushers the listener to Scott’s pained and warming voice with “Death Dream”. Painting of a Panic Attack is the fifth record by Selkirk’s best, Frightened Rabbit – and follows a shuffle in the band’s lineup since the departing of former Make Model member Gordon Skene in 2014. The change in formation seems not to have had the band vying for creative spark, however. While Frightened Rabbit haven’t released a new album since 2013’s Pedestrian Verse, Scott, Andy and touring member, Simon Liddell released a side project called Owl John in 2014, so it’s safe to say there’s still plenty of life and spark in the band – which is something this new record reflects.
Enlisting the help of The National’s Aaron Dessner, Painting of a Panic Attack is an incredibly likeable album, in fact upon first listening it’s easy to jump ahead and smack a large ‘love’ sticker on its arse. Folky, uplifting beats from the band juxtapose the darker piano set pieces brewed from Aaron’s work with The National, effectively creating a listening experience which leaves you feeling a sense of void, sadness and pain. It’s powerful stuff. It’s not just well composed, and well produced; lyrically this is Scott’s best work yet. His songs are honest, listening is an experience you share with him as you journey through his thoughts feeling everything one can imagine he feels too. It’s a sombre record with the odd uplifting section here – assumingly to stop you reaching for the bleach too quick. The artistry present makes this record one of Frightened Rabbit’s best, and also makes it clear that a small shift in line up doesn’t stop the band producing masterpiece after masterpiece.
“Lump Street” is an interesting track, its electronic waves are felt throughout while the cold piano and drums weave through Scott’s troubled voice. It picks up in the middle with a more active drum beat introducing a new pace for the track. “Get Out” too stands out, mainly because of the lyrics; listening to this track properly requires your full attention just to appreciate the craftsmanship involved. Personally this is the best Frightened Rabbit song yet, its grave and solemn – it’s a poem to a girl causing Scott pain which is wonderful to listen to.
In retrograde to the general feeling surrounding this record, the final track “Die Like a Rich Boy” is a weak ending to a powerful and moving album. While it’s not a bad track, not by a long shot, it’s just not up to same standard as the rest of the album. Opening with a soft campfire-song like acoustic style, Scott’s soft voice embraces a feeling of pain while a piano stomps in the background accompanied by the occasional violin. The chorus’ are uplifting for sure, and it’s a fantastic track but it’s the ending which takes it down a peg. The build-up generated by the verses and chorus sort of fades before the album ends. In a way that is a statement which compliments the album in general. It’s too good for its own good at times, especially the ending.
Overall its particularly hard to fault this record, even picking holes in the tracks is difficult. Painting of a Panic Attack is monochrome, but in such a way that amplifies it. It’s a fantastic record which sees the best efforts of Frightened Rabbit come together to form something special, the influence of The National helps too, Aaron’s influence is a welcome element on the bands fifth album. It is indeed a special LP, something to be remembered and with the success of Pedestrian Verse being released to critical acclaim we hope to see this one get the recognition it deserves.
1. Death Dream
2. Get Out
3. I Wish I Was Sober
4. Woke Up Hurting
5. Little Drum
6. Still Want to Be Here
7. An Otherwise Disappointing Life
9. Blood Under the Bridge
10. 400 Bones
11. Lump Street
12. Die Like a Rich Boy
Painting of a Panic Attack is deep and follows a somber tone, echoing from Scott's brilliant songwriting. Listen for some fantastic set pieces and folky beats, coupled with The National-style darkness.