Frightened Rabbit – It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop (2008) (Fat Cat)
Last year, Frightened Rabbit‘s Christmas single It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop came as, to those who heard it, a real shock. The material assembled on their debut LP, sings The Greys, contained little of the dramatic balance and bruised restlessness we can hear in this shocking song. Originally a lightly augmented (with choir and strings) rock bluster, the song has now been rearranged by fellow FatCat artist David Karsten Daniels – and he’s just about made it better.
Because of the circular nature of the song, there’s not a tremendous amount of elaboration any arranger can manage, but Daniels has such a skill for muddying harmonies and for instinctive instrumental decisions that it’s entirely possible to forget that this is, essentially, the same melodies over and over. The strings are both omnipresent and potent, with simple-but-effective held suspensions over the ever-rolling chord structure, occasionally rising to triumphant pounds, but always tastefully restrained. Adding colour, though, is the small wash of keyboard over the most dramatic of Scott Hutchinson’s verse – the last before all Christmassy hell breaks loose. Worming their way downwards while the song wants to move up makes the unbeatable fireworks of what follows all the more satisfying – Daniels is one of the most natural writers active today.
While David Karsten Daniels’ contributions do make the song better, it has to be reiterated that this was a magnificent song to begin with. The base material is a natural precursor to the terrifyingly raw and wrought Midnight Organ Fight LP, and sees Scott Hutchinson’s voice fill its full potential on record for the first time. It rings so clearly and with such poignancy, and began the whole ‘every Frightened Rabbit lyric is forever quotable’ obsession some of us seem to have nowadays. The song pleads for normality, begs for a break from conflict (personal, mind, this isn’t Band Aid), but is anchored by the irrefutable knowledge that this won’t last. Hope is well and truly fucked by the time we get to that climactic refrain (right after those keyboards aforementioned) – listeners will find it difficult to forget the line “next day, life went back to its bad self” come this December 25th.
You can hear the single at the FatCat website, right here (strongly advised), where you can also pre-order the 7″ (PM has already).