Album: Frightened Rabbit, Pedestrian Verse (Atlantic)

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The Independent Culture

Amid all the futile, cyclical chatter about rock's death/rebirth, Frightened Rabbit have done well to stay out of the conversation. Never the "next big thing" nor the latest casualty of hype, the Scottish band have accrued a cult following for their mix of anthemic bluster and social miserabilism – their reward a major label contract for this, album four.

And what of it? Paradoxically, it's both their most commercial and subversive release yet. On the one hand, the hooks are more uplifting than ever; on the other, the lyrics plumb new depths of grimness.

Take opener "Acts of Man", a yearning ballad coloured by vomit flecks and domestic abuse. Or "State Hospital", a singalong about the social inequity of a woman "born into a grave". Or anti-hymn "Holy", a boppy tirade against the pious on which Scott Hutchison wails, wonderfully, "stop acting so holy – I know I'm full of holes".

Indeed, from the self-mockingly banal title onwards, it confirms them as that rare thing: a band able to combine grandiosity and groundedness. Similar, in fact, to another slow-burn success story with a bearishy tender frontman. Now here's hoping they can also Elbow their way into the mainstream.