One for Friday — Frightened Rabbit, “Oil Slick”


I wrote about Frightened Rabbit only once. When I was regularly churning out copy for Spectrum Culture, I put in to detail the ingenuity of a track from the band’s sterling 2013 album, Pedestrian Verse, as a contribution to the recurring Monthly Mixtape feature.

This is what I wrote:

The closing track off of Frightened Rabbit’s Pedestrian Verse, their fourth full-length
overall and major label bow, is a lean, emotive affair, ending the fine record on an
appropriately contemplative note. Even better, it has a touch of meta playfulness that
undercuts any self-seriousness that could trickle in. Lead singer and chief songwriter
Scott Hutchison uses the oil slick of the title as a metaphor for his own gloppy, gooey
feelings that can ponderously darken his songs, noting, “Only an idiot would swim
through the shit I write.” Hutchison has noted that he originally intended Pedestrian
Verse to be relatively free of relationships songs, until a break-up during the creative
process thwarted that plan. “The Oil Slick” comes across as his cleverly abashed way of
acknowledging his own inability to steer clear of the lovelorn pining that has long been
the lifeblood of pop music.

Those words still encapsulate a fair amount of the appeal I found in Frightened Rabbit’s music. The open-hearted poignancy of Hutchison’s songwriting was a wonder. At a time in pop music when it often felt like artists were holding themselves back, hiding within the affectations of studio tricks or arch, ironic posturing, Hutchison always seemed to be right there in the lyrics of his songs. It’s precisely that quality that made the witty meta flourishes of “Oil Slick,” and other similar intellectual playfulness, feel like avenues to deeper understanding rather than guises that pushed the listener away.

Listen or download —> Frightened Rabbit, “Oil Slick”

(Disclaimer: I haven’t checked, but I suspect Pedestrian Verse and the bulk of the Frightened Rabbit discography remains available as physical items that can be purchased from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both the proprietor of said store and the original artist. I’m sharing this track as an encouragement to engage in precisely that commerce rather than a replacement for such an action. This strikes me as fair use. However, I do know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove the file if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)

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