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Album Review: Frightened Rabbit – Painting of a Panic Attack

2 min read

Painting of a Panic Attack is a bit of a different beast for Frightened Rabbit. Compared to Pedestrian Verse, which was a tried-and-true indie rock album that took all of their winning elements and combined them into one break-up inspired masterpiece, their latest album places a heavier focus on the little details that make a song grand. The album mostly relies on a cohesive set of songs to relay its message; however, its ability to give each track a unique identity makes it an overall success.

Frightened Rabbit Painting of a Panic AttackIn both scope and style, Painting of a Panic Attack takes things into a more subdued place, very much indicated by the album’s title, and the overall tone is denser. The album places a heavy focus on atmosphere, often using an expansive arrangement of effects and reverb to create a soundscape that doesn’t rely on raging guitars and high impact drums to get the message across. The album is by nature quite minimal, with songs often gaining their power from the little production techniques that are unique to each track, whether it be a larger than life chorus or a steady rise through the entire song.

The slow burn of Still Want to Be Here is the strongest example of why the album’s production style works. It starts simply with guitar and percussion before slowly adding in electronics, more instrumental layers and eventually a horn section, creating a torrent of sound and elements that ends the song with a flourish. Get Out is similarly simple, but gains its energy from the bursts of guitar that occur in the chorus, rather than featuring a continuous guitar line that’s present throughout the song. This keeps the song minimal, yet highlights the main hook—I don’t want you to get out of my heart / She won’t / She won’t / Get out of my heart—without taking things overboard. The album’s ballads follow a similar style; the grandiose choruses of the closing track Die Like a Rich Boy are the album’s best example of using elaborate elements that still relate to the collection at large, keeping it squarely within its comfort zone.

With its deceptively simple yet incredibly effective production style, Painting of a Panic Attack paints the picture of its title well; it moves between moods and stages smoothly, placing its bombastic moments at the heart of simpler songs to keep them relevant to the whole, with clever use of distinguishing elements throughout the album resulting in something incredibly effective. While it’s not entirely original in terms of production and writing, it’s a brilliant example of an indie rock album that’s a little left of field, yet entirely charming in its own right.