The fifth studio long player and second major-label release from the petrified Scottish mammals, Painting of a Panic Attack offers up another swoon-inducing, bloody-sleeved collection of erudite indie rock anthems that distill angst, both existential and situational, into fist-pumping crowd-pleasers. Produced with measured aplomb by the National's Aaron Dessner, the 12-track set sees frontman Scott Hutchison returning full-time to the fold after his 2014 solo outing under the Owl John moniker. Born out of homesickness for his bandmates and the old country -- Hutchison spent much of his post-Owl John existence on an extensive Los Angeles staycation. Painting of a Panic Attack treads familiar thematic ground for the group -- loss, dislocation, heartache, regret, etc. -- but between Hutchison's always compelling prose and Dessner's punchy production work, the overall effect is beguiling rather than staid. The album is front-loaded, to say the least, with early standouts like "Get Out," "Death Dream," "Woke Up Hurting," and "I Wish I Was Sober," which are as hook-driven as they are pained, with the banging "Get Out" packing the most firepower -- think the Killers with some humility or Arcade Fire sans righteousness. Hutchison really only deals with the City of Angels directly on two songs: the plaintive "Still Want to Be Here" and the brooding "Lump Street," but the notion that a stranger in a strange land can be both inspired and driven to tears is a familiar one for anybody who has ever sought change through relocation. Painting of a Panic Attack, like previous albums, can get a bit mired in wistful, midtempo soul searching, but it's by far the most immediate and inclusive collection of songs that the band has laid to tape to date. ~ James Christopher Monger
Paste (magazine) - "[A] triumph for a veteran band and represents one of their best efforts to date....[I]t's clear that the Scottish band is using more instruments to their advantage, not weighing down their trademark morbid lyrics with extra baggage."
Clash (magazine) - "[E]xceptional....[This] is a band renewed, a group of musicians exploring fresh new ground while remaining true to the colours and hues that first defined them."