Assembled from a collection of tracks that were deemed unsuitable for their upcoming fourth studio album, Pedestrian Verse, in addition to one lucky number that made the cut, the State Hospital EP is the first chance to hear whether Scottish quintet Frightened Rabbit have gone mainstream since signing to Atlantic Records. The presence of Aidan Moffat, the frontman of eternal miserablists Arab Strap, on the closing number immediately puts any sellout concerns to bed. Incredibly, his poetic spoken word intro on the gothic drone rock of "Wedding Gloves" isn't the most doom-and-gloom moment on the record, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the band's lack of commercial intent. That accolade goes to the deceptively grim "Boxing Night," an alcohol-drenched slice of rootsy folk that wallows in the lonely aftermath of a failed relationship ("Glasgow could burn to its timber tonight/I'd barely blink an eye"). Backed by Leo Abrahams' stirring production, Scott Hutchison's thick Selkirk tones provide almost as much intensity on the hauntingly fragile balladry of "Off" and the gutsy guitar pop of "Home from War." But it's on the opening title track, a visceral blend of choral post-rock and anthemic alt-folk that will once again see the light of day in 2013, where the band's kitchen-sink tales and brooding atmospherics connect most strikingly. If State Hospital is an indication of things to come, then Frightened Rabbit should have 2013's unremittingly bleak indie rock scene sewn up.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien