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Sometimes life is bleak and sometimes life is beautiful, and healthy people grow to appreciate each one for their own merit. Beauty in the sadness and sadness in the beauty, as we know each emotion is prone to collapse into the other. This isn’t the case across Frightened Rabbit’s Painting of a Panic Attack. We’re getting exactly as the title suggests; an aural encapsulation of the darker fringes of Scott Hutchison’s psyche. He’s not very OK, and he’s not quite at peace with that realization. As the album progresses, there are tinges of acceptance, or at least an acknowledgement that things may get better, but these fleeting moments matter much less among the manic depressive ones.
Painting of a Panic Attack acts as a kaleidoscope of frontman and songwriter Scott Hutchison’s life; you can view it from any angle and it’s a goddamn mess. Each song paints its own picture of Hutchison’s past regrets, lost loves, and hatred for life stagnation and the mundane. The track “An Otherwise Disappointing Life,” features some of the most painful bellows from Hutchison, and he says he “just wants to wave goodbye,” to that life. We’re processing the current state of his life as he is, with each track having Hutchison reveal to us yet another reason he’s so morose. This is reflected in the songs not just lyrically, but musically. The opening track “Death Dream” starts off as a nearly barren piano ballad that backs Hutchison’s cries of “We died in our sleep last night,” and the track crescendos and climaxes with beautiful horns and sullen drums, as he states, “It’s been awhile since I’ve dreamed this.”
We gather a lot of information simply from the track listing. The song “I Wish I Was Sober” is followed by “Woke Up Hurting.” “Still Want To Be Here” is followed by “An Otherwise Disappointing Life.” He’s not ready to die, but he hates where he’s at. He’s willing to let go of past experiences, while recognizing that they’ve caused damage, such as on the track “Blood Under The Bridge.”
But, like the sunny days in March that get you overly eager for spring, the songs “Still Want To Be Here” and “Break” act as cathartic interludes and releases of the building tensions at play. We just hope Hutchison can find more of these moments in the future. For now, we revel in the beautifully heartbreaking indie rock he’s created. »
– Tyler Sanford