The biggest bit of news to drop in casa EbM in last few months was that old favourites Frightened Rabbit would be releasing a new LP in 2013. That was good news because as creators of one of the best albums of the last half-decade, FR LPs are always worth paying attention to, but also because there would inevitably be a host of EPs and singles released to build up anticipation. And as a FR fanboy-completist, I'm willing to gobble all of these up with gusto.
We last had a FR EP back in November '11, and whether any of the tracks from there will be on the new LP we can only speculate. What is known, however, is that the title track from State Hospital will make it on to the final album. Being the first song to emerge from the album's writing session, frontman Scott has said it "set the tone" for the rest of the record. If that's the case then fans of FR's old stuff (which definitely includes me) are in for a treat. But it's not a continuation of the upward trend in production values that we've seen through their last three albums; as I said when the last EP came out, the band's longtime producer Peter Katis (a man with one of the most impressive resumes of recent times) is no longer on the scene and the band are handling production duties themselves. Whatever the reason for this (it may be a 'creative' decision or a side-effect of the band's switch from indie FatCat to major Atlantic) I think ultimately it's a step in the right direction. The songs on this EP carry a rawness and edge that is recognizable from their early work but which had been all but ironed out following 2008's Midnight Organ Fight.
Of the other songs on this release, Boxing Night is the standout, reminiscent of Cheap Gold and It's Christmas So We'll Stop, and is by all accounts an old song given a final polish before being laid to rest. The collaboration with Aiden Moffat (late of Arab Strap), Wedding Gloves, is a leftfield 'weird' one, but what binds all five tracks together is an uncommon quality and a spirit that so many bands with promising beginnings lose as their career progresses. Frightened Rabbit are evidently still going strong, and still ones to watch.