I’m already getting pre-show nerves for the Frightened Rabbit show tomorrow night. I first heard the band on June 20, 2008 and pretty much since then they’ve held the title as my Favorite Current Band. I’ve seen them on TV a few times, listened to a few streamed shows, but this will be the first time I get to stand in the same venue as them and hear them play. Can they deliver on nearly eight years of build-up?
I imagine only a few of my readers have sampled their music since I began evangelizing for them. A consistent element of my praise for the band is Scott Hutchison’s lyrics. With that in mind, here are my favorite FR lyrics from their five albums, offered in chronological order. All lyrics are pulled directly from the band’s site, thus the British spellings.
As lyrics that are perfect when listened to often fall flat when read without the music they were written with, I’ve linked to the best YouTube version of each song so you can follow along if you like.
“The Modern Leper” – 2008
My favorite FR song doesn’t have one single lyric that sticks out. It’s more a sum of the various lines that makes it so great. But I do love this line where Hutchison wonders if it isn’t better to be dead than live through the pain he feels. Favorite song of 2008, favorite song of the ‘00s.
I am ill, but I’m not dead
I don’t know which of those I prefer
“Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms” – 2008
The first FR song I ever heard is loaded with amazing lines. Two stand out. First, Hutchison aims his anger at his ex’s new lover.
I am armed with the past and the will and a brick
I might not want you back but I want to kill him
Hutchison often builds his songs to devastating closing lines. That’s true here, where he ends with a heartbreakingly honest, and pathetic, confession.
Leave the rest at arm’s length
I’m not ready to see you this happy
Leave the rest at arm’s length
I am still in love with you, can’t admit it yet
“Head Rolls Off” – 2008.
By the fall of ’08, I was deep, deep, deep into this album. On different days, different lyrics would resonate with me. In the last week or so before L was born, one in particular from this song kept going through my head. If I do nothing else in my life, I’ve made three tiny changes to earth.
You can mark my words,
I’ll make changes to earth
While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth
“Backwards Walk” – 2008
The Midnight Organ Fight slowly moves through all the emotions that hit following a painful breakup. We’ve all reached that point where we say, “Today, I’m starting over. I’m forgetting about her/him and moving on!” Here, Hutchison points out that that is often easier said than done.
I’m working on erasing you
I just don’t have the proper tools
I’ll get hammered, forget that you exist
But there’s no way I’m forgetting this
His closing line is brilliant here, too.
You’re the shit and I’m knee deep in it
“Keep Yourself Warm” – 2008
So many FR songs are about regretting your actions taken in the heat of the moment. On “Keep Yourself Warm,” Hutchison faces the truth that a one-night stand does not wash away the pain you were filled with the day before. It is also a fine example of his raw honesty.
It takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm
“Floating In The Forth” – 2008
When Hutchison’s mother first heard this song, he had to assure her that, no, he was not really contemplating suicide. But there was a point where he wondered if he could live with the pain he was overwhelmed by. Another one of his techniques is to take a song filled with negative emotions and find a glimmer of hope by the end. That’s most apparent on this, the final song of Organ Fight. Following these lines, the music explodes into a bright, glorious, almost angelic coda that is the sound of sun peaking through the clouds, and a promise that things will get better.
Take your life, give it a shake
And gather up all your loose change
I think I’ll save suicide for another year.
“Nothing Like You” – 2010
The Winter of Mixed Drinks treads many of the same areas as the previous album. Once again Hutchison wrote in the time following a breakup. Yet the album doesn’t sound like a rehash of Organ Fight. Here, he is admits that for all the good that comes from a new relationship, the new person doesn’t wipe out everything left from the last person.
She was not the cure for cancer
And all of my questions still ask for answers
“Footshooter” – 2010
Perhaps FR’s best song, it is, again, about the consequences of your actions. This is my single favorite FR lyric. Favorite song of 2010.
Lock up your ears, my dear, I’m verbal when I am loaded
“Holy” – 2013
Hutchison is no fan of organized religion. While this song most directly addresses people telling him that he needs to find God, I’ve always thought it is aimed at anyone who tries to tell you how to live your life. Favorite song of 2013.
I don’t mind being lonely
Leave me alone
You’re acting all holy
Me, I’m just full of holes
“Dead Now” – 2013
A gem that does not get played live often, but is full of amazing, alliterative twists and turns. Another song that gets two entries.
I’ve gone devilled my kidneys
Now he’s living inside of me
How fantastic is that line? Then this is just an amazing way to end the song.
There’s something wrong with me
And it reads nothing like poetry
So will you love me spite of these
Tics and inconsistencies
There is something wrong with me
“I Wish I Was Sober” – 2016
The second verse of this song might be the greatest combination of lyrics and music in the band’s history. It’s just phenomenal. This is the second half of that second verse.
My love, you should know
The best of me left hours ago so
Shove a rag into my mouth and let me smoulder
The fall out and the damage done
I can’t un-sink the things I’ve sunk
Still not giving up, though I wish that I was sober
“An Otherwise Disappointing Life” – 2016
I love this little coda added on as the song hits its musical peak, which fits the mood of the entire album: the power of a relationship to lift you above your shortcomings and hangups.
In the hollow chapel suffering in silence you’re the choir
that sings this otherwise disappointing life back to life
“Break” – 2016
My favorite song off the new album, which makes it a strong contender for song of the year.
Than realising who you’ve hurt
- I remember this because it was my birthday. I first discovered them by the once wonderful, but no longer posting, I Am Fuel, You Are Friends site. I read Heather’s Post in which she interviewed Hutchison, listened to a couple songs, and used my birthday iTunes card to buy the FR album moments later. ↩
- Ryan Adams and The War on Drugs have both challenged that title, but FR always reclaims it. ↩