Sunday, December 14, 2008

Frightened Rabbit, "Head Rolls Off" (#17)

"Head Rolls Off"
(Grant Hutchinson/Scott Hutchinson/Billy Kennedy/Andy Monaghan)
Frightened Rabbit
The Midnight Organ Fight

The Scottish, never known for their sunny, optimistic outlook, seem to produce the dourest of dour bands. There's Belle and Sebastian, memorably described in High Fidelity as "sad bastard music." There's Arab Strap, named after a bondage device and reveling in the depravity of sexual man. And there's Mogwai, who thunder apocalyptically and usually wordlessly.

Add Frightened Rabbit to the list. Here we have the flip side of U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Bono and company sang about the doubts that surrounded a life of faith. But "Head Rolls Off" is about the certainty that surrounds atheism. It's a last-minute report from the guillotine by a man about to lose his life for blasphemy. He doesn't recant, of course, and what he gives us is an elaborate apology for humanism.

To anyone who reads this blog regularly, it will go without saying that I don't share Scott Hutchinson's religious beliefs. But something moves me in the way he sings it with such conviction--far more than Bono ever did. His humanist manifesto horrifies me at the same time it sucks me in. How can a band sound dour and anthemic at the same time?


Tim Rhodes said...

This is a great song. It kind of reminds me of some of Modest Mouse's stuff-- I don't agree with it at all but the incredible genuineness that they sing it with is something I admire.

I've been working on a list of favorite songs for this year (you've inspired me these past few years), and there are definitely some similarities in what I've been listening to. But other great stuff I haven't that you've introduced.

stanford said...

I've never heard of this band. They are great. Heartbreaking.

I believe in a house in the clouds
And God's got his dead friends 'round
He's painted all the walls red
To remind them they're all dead