When Frightened Rabbit’s splendid second album, Midnight Organ Fight, didn’t set the world on fire like it should have back in April, the band’s label, Fat Cat, had a choice: swallow the fact that the second album from one of its most exciting bands is getting a good response from critics but minor sales, or promote the hell out of it by releasing it as a live album. Fat Cat opted for the latter. Liver! Lung! FR! is a near perfect recreation of Midnight Organ Fight, right down to having an identical track list (minus two shorter songs from Fight), but its necessity is dubious at best.
Midnight Organ Fight represented a giant step forward for Frightened Rabbit. Lead singer Scott Hutchinson reached the pinnacle of his songwriting abilities with songs about the complexities of relationships, heartbreak, broken couples and, most of all, sex. His brother Grant beat his drum kit like it slept with his girl, and the swirling, uplifting acoustic/electric guitars of Billy Kennedy created a dense atmosphere for highlights like “The Modern Leper,” “Heads Roll Off” and “The Twist.”
The renditions on Liver! Lung! FR! are faithful to a fault: Scott hits the same warbly notes and screams in the same places, and the intensity is dutifully replicated. The main draw of Liver! is presumably the drunken stage banter that usually finds Scott saying, “Cheers,” and swearing profusely, and the Glasgow hometown crowd goes ape after every song. It lends the songs more weight — it places them in an alternative context — but the live versions don’t tend to unveil any new revelations.
Liver! Lung! FR!’s obvious purpose is to keep Frightened Rabbit on the minds of the typically fickle music fan — and that’s an understandable motive. Frightened Rabbit are more exciting on a third of Liver! or Fight than their fellow Scottish bands (like the Fratellis) and British bands (like Razorlight, the Kooks, the Wombats) that dominate NME are on multiple albums’ worth of material. But at the same time, when other Brit-poppers are figuratively putting out the same thing twice (and, in some cases, thrice or more), Frightened Rabbit have literally put out an album with the same songs for the second time. Liver! Lung! FR! is a solid album — it was just better six months ago.