Frightened Rabbit

The Midnight Organ Fight (Fat Cat Records)

Basic human behavior dictates you walk backward for one of two reasons: You're either arguing with someone or acting like a dunderhead. In "My Backwards Walk," Frightened Rabbit vocalist Scott Hutchison is squabbling, all right, over personal shortcomings and relationship gaffes. Problem is, at any moment you expect the Glasgow native to stumble backward over puerile countrymen The Yummy Fur.

Hutchison strives to be a love/romance decoder on the level of Travis frontman Fran Healy, but is undone by his own wink-wink/nudge-nudge phrasing. "Keep Yourself Warm" is a gnomic look at those who fill the craving for long-term companionship with carnal pleasures — until the lines regarding "points of entry" and "finding love in a hole" arrive. Tempering gravitas with humor is neat, but the best (hello, Morrissey) did it with more subtlety and finesse.

Sonically, tracks like "I Feel Better" and "Fast Blood" are the Futureheads by way of Gang of Four: guitars that are cleaned of effects, cold-blooded, circular. Frightened Rabbit tacks on bleating horns ("I Feel Better"), lap steel guitar ("Good Arms vs. Bad Arms"), and jocular electronic beats ("My Backwards Walk"), recognizing that an infinity of monochromatic melodies would exhaust even the most persevering. The Midnight Organ Fight has its moments, but ultimately it portrays a band going forward in reverse.

 
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