The great thing about indie music is that anything goes. Sometimes this means it’s dressed up with all the latest technological innovations of noise creation. Other times, however, it’s conceived of with tradition in mind, synthesizing elements of the ancient and the modern to create a sound that works. Such is the case with Scottish indie-rockers Frightened Rabbit and their fourth studio album, Pedestrian Verse.
The album starts on shaky ground, literally, with vocalist Scott Hutchinson venturing into a higher register that can only be described as grating at best. But the band’s sound soon swells into a wonderful, gloriously full momentum that it maintains for the rest of the album. The instrumentals of Pedestrian Verse are abound with fast-paced guitar riffs, supported by a peppering of odd synthetic sounds to keep things interesting as well as clear Celtic undertones that act as a homage to the band’s Scottish origins. Arrangements are halting and intermittent, rising and falling, starting and stopping exactly as you might expect — but given the overall nostalgic vibe of the record, it’s something of a comfort. The album has been described by the band as having a “worn-in feel” and this is definitely accurate. The tracks feel a little fuzzy around the edges and Hutchinson’s vocals, when they reach their peak, compliment this perfectly, with his charmingly inconsistent pitch, slight edge, and clearly discernible accent. What results from all these features is a solid, good old indie rock record, plain and simple.
As mentioned above, Frightened Rabbit’s strength seems to lie in its ability to pander to the familiar and the traditional. While this might seem kind of counter-intuitive for a genre like indie rock, which is often founded on experimentation, the fact that they have been able to make this sound relevant to today’s music scene is a testament to the innovation involved in taking cues from established conventions. While all the elements of Pedestrian Verse tend to harken back to the idea of roots, it provides a listening experience that is both comfortable and intriguing, making for a very charming and likeable record indeed.