When Frank in 2019 or 2020 started talking about the next record and said it would go back to his hardcore roots (paraphrasing here) I was a bit afraid that it might be too heavy (loud, shouty, aggressive) for my taste. Mostly because I prefer singing Frank to shouty Frank.
In mental preparation for this post – because I knew I’d write it once the album is finally out – I tried to figure out why I feel that way. I think it is because I love Frank’s lyrics and when he’s singing – even very quick paced songs with gazillion words – I usually understand 95% of what he’s singing and the missing 5% might be a word I just don’t know. I don’t get that ratio from shouty Frank, far from it. And I don’t like having to figure out what he’s shouting. This might be a non-native speaker problem? Because once I’ve listened the song with the lyrics in front of me I will understand what he’s singing every time after, but it feels like a tedious process to understand him.
Anyway… I’m glad there isn’t too much what I consider shouting on this record. Loud and aggressive singing, maybe, but that’s fine. So let’s go. The rating is of course my very own personal opinion and taste. Nothing about quality of lyrics, music, performance…
01. Non Serviam ★★★☆☆
“God asked lucifer – “What’s the plan?”
He said, “I know who I am, man, non serviam.“
It starts with one of the two shouty songs on the album and I’m glad I’ve heard most of the album as acoustic versions over the pandemic to know that there was other material. The non-shouty part started to grow on me after a while though. I don’t fully share the attitude of the song, I think, so that might also be why I’m sort of on the fence.
02. The Gathering ★★★★☆
“But we’re pent up and pissed off and precariously close to the precipice.“
I think that was the first single? Feels like it’s already been around for a long time. I love it. Basically that’s a degree of “loud” I’m absolutely fine with. Even back when it came out I said, I can’t wait to be back in the crowd singing this. Because being at the barrier with like minded people singing those songs is such a life- and self-affirming experience for me. And I missed it over the last two years.
03. Haven’t Been Doing So Well ★★★★★
“If self loathing was a sport, I’d be Muhammad Ali,
Because I can sting like a butterfly and sink like a bee.“
I already said all I had to say here a few months ago. Still such an important song for me. I feel so seen!
04. Untainted Love ★★★☆☆
“Because the one thing that I never accounted for was love”
I love the heavy guitar here at the beginning! So much! And how the band joins in later is equally powerful. I admire and appreciate the raw honesty with which Frank sings about his former drug addiction here. In a bit of a different context a few months ago I wrote how one interview, where he was very open about it as well, made me more aware of my own bad habits for my mental and physical health. And there are quite a few. Which I don’t share with the world though. So kudos to Frank for being so open about it.
05. Fatherless ★★★★★
“You can’t blame a grown up kid for wishing”
Another one of those songs I can relate to so much. This song totally blew me away when Frank played it for the first time at a live stream last year. I felt seen. And understood. Almost 20 years after I made peace with the fraught mother-daughter relationship. When my mum passed away in December 2021 I talked about that here a few times. And this song captures these emotions of anger and hurt and disappointment younger me felt so very well. Twice today I was singing along from the top of my lungs in the car and then almost felt a bit guilty, because I did make peace with my mum and the fraught relationship long ago. And she’s not alive anymore. But I guess my memories of these feelings are still valid. I hope. Back to the song: I love that the music diverts from the heavy subject. It’s still loud and powerful, but there is a piano and and an organ and this eases up on this heavy topic a bit sonically. The whole song makes me want to dance. Flay my limbs and scream my sorrow about it into the void.
06. My Bad ★★☆☆☆
“My parents world just made me furious,
So I ran away and joined the circus.”
The 2nd shouty song, which I just don’t enjoy as much as the rest of the album. Also another one, where I can sympathize with the attitude, but not really relate to it, because I haven’t made the same or even similar experiences.
07. Miranda ★★★☆☆
“I’ll be me, promise me that you’ll be you”
Such a powerful song and I’m so glad that Frank and Miranda felt comfortable and safe enough to share this with the world. I admit though that I do prefer the acoustic version, because in this album version guitar and drums and everything are overshadowing the lyrics in some parts. But maybe that’s just me. The single came out the week I learned that my mum’s time on earth was ending so the “carrying hate [….] best to just let go” line really resonated with me. Because I had managed to do that years ago and it was so important to not have resentments linger at the end of her life.
08. A Wave Across A Bay ★★★★★
“Ever falling, never landing,
Rolling slowly out to sea and always smiling.“
Once again the raw honesty that rips your heart open. I have no words. RIP Scott. I love how much this does captures the Frightened Rabbit sound. Well done Frank and everybody!
09. The Resurrectionists ★★★★★
“We’re all just kids let loose into the world,
Waiting for someone to explain the rules,
Unsupervised, unhappy and uncool,
We’re all just kids, that’s all.”
Woah, this one is so good. I often enjoy the quick-paced, million words a minute songs and this one is no exception. It’s a lovely throwback to the Prufrock era of many years ago. Another one of those “just makes you want to dance” songs as well. I can’t wait to see that live and sing and dance around. Also, I’m turning 47 in April and every once in a while I would still like someone to explain the rules to me…
10. Punches ★★★★★
“Damnit, goddamn, I went and fucked it up,
Every single day like a clock that’s stuck.”
This song is hitting so close to home these days in the same vain as “Haven’t Been Doing So Well” does. At work quite literally at the moment as I feel Iike I might have messed up a bit this week. I don’t know. It definitely feels like I haven’t had a day where all my punches land in a long time. And yes, I can wholeheartedly say “Well fuck last year I’m glad it’s done”. But also get some inspiration from the “I’m tired of only ever trying to do what I can; the secret is to try and do the things that you can’t.” I haven’t tried that in a too long time either. Even though part of me knows how good it feels to try something new or to try something again. Maybe these lyrics will give me a bit of a push in the right direction.
11. Perfect Score ★★★☆☆
“The older I get the more I realise that I
Don’t know much of anything,
That’s why I’m trying to hold my tongue.“
I haven’t completely made up my mind about this song to be honest. I like parts of the melody quite a lot and other parts I like just fine. I think I mostly agree with what Frank is singing about. All in all it’s just not hitting me in the right spot. Yet?
12. The Work ★★★☆☆
“Because I did my fair share of the rock’n’roll
Three minutes and Fifteen seconds version of love,
But me I always needed the B sides,
And not just the best of.”
I can’t be impartial about this, I’m afraid. I’m still just really happy for Frank and Jess that they found each other and made / make this work. But… just as with “Miranda” I very much prefer the acoustic version on the Deluxe CD to this loud rock album one; just like Jess herself does, according to Frank. That soft finger picking version would easily get another star. I do love the organ parts on the album version as well though.
13. Little Life ★★★★★
“Where I heard the mermaids singing,
Each to each and to you and me.
A song about anxiety
Getting washed away by the sea.“
Oh my God! This came out of left field for me, such a lovely mellow song, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I did not expect this on a hardcore punk record. I love the soft, wavy background sound in the chorus (the mermaids singing?) that transports me to the sea as well. The bridge in this one is close to perfection, I think, melody, arrangement and lyric wise. And yes, I’m totally biased of course, because the sea does help with my bouts of anxiety too.
14. Farewell To My City ★★★★★
“I got tired of London, not tired of life.
I’m so sorry, my darling, to leave you behind.
We had a hell of a run there, I must go down to the sea.
While you’re always changing, it wasn’t you, it was me.”
When I heard this the first time this morning, I wasn’t sure if I liked the long spoken word part of this song. To be honest I was pretty sure that I didn’t. An hour or so later I listened to it a 2nd time and all of a sudden I was sort of blown away. Weird how quickly this can change sometimes. I think it works splendidly here. I absolutely love how they add instrument after instrument and then at the end the piano and the powerful full force finale, and of course the wonderful, heartfelt goodbye to the city. *sigh* What an absolute brilliant song. I can’t wait to sing the last bit with Frank and everyone else at a gig sometime.
So all in all… this comes to ★★★★☆ average, roundabout anyway. Well done Frank and everybody involved! Now all fingers crossed it will make it to the top spot in the UK charts next week!