Frightened Rabbit - Midnight Organ Fight
The first thing you notice is the heavily accented, throaty vocal style of Scott Hutchinson. However, it takes a while before you begin to discern the trio's distinctive feature, the lack of a bass guitar. The combination of guitar-piano layering over a sometimes relentless drum beat masks this fact well and it is something which you do not notice until your attention is drawn to it after repeated listens. Far from being a quirky novelty, the band use the available sound to great effect to an extent that you do not even notice.
The album opens with one of the strongest tracks, "The Modern Leper". There is a persistent and airy melody which belies the dark and moody lyrics:
"I cut off my foot to spite my leg/ Is that you in front of me?/ Coming back for even more of exactly the same/ You must be a masochist to love a modern leper on its last leg"
This may be pop, but it is a pop shorn of its saccharine coated cloying words. For instance "Floating in the Forth" is about a suicide in the eponymous river. Yet, this is not real life any more than it is fantasy. This is a sinister take on the darker side of life, a theme which continues throughout the album. The transposition of bright and upbeat music with seedy, even gruesome lyrics is something which runs throughout the whole album. For instance, on "Keep Yourself Warm", Hutchinson masters the self-loathing reality of many a modern relationship with:
"You won't find love in a, won't find love in a hole/ It takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm."
On "Poke" the lyrics are even more explicitly brutal, while on the album's stand-out track, "Heads Roll Off, the opening lines seem almost designed to be offensive:
"Jesus is just a Spanish boy's name/ How come one man got so much fame?"
This may be pop, but it is not going to be popular in that sense. At the same time radio-friendly and radio-averse, the band seem to be positioning themselves in a niche where it will be hard for them to gain wider attention. Perhaps that is their aim.
Yet the album is not all positive. The shorter, often instrumental tracks seem a little pointless, as if they were melodies waiting for someone to build them into a song, but someone never did. And, to be honest, after a while, the album begins to sound samey. You can pick out the highlights from the rest, but the rest comes across as pretty much indistinguishable from itself. You'll enjoy it but you won't remember it.
Still, in a year which has frequently struggled even to disappoint, Midnight Organ Fight was one of the better releases.
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on 2010-02-16 zHiThisIsBobz Said:
"poke" and "the modern leper" are the two standouts of this album for me. that is, i tend to go right for them when i am in the mood for acoustic with a touch of grunge. some lyrics evoke more than the average lyricist can, and this is where the album succeeds. using vulgarities that us americans would shy away from brings you in the world. "poke out my iris/why can't i cry about this"
it's what i turn to when i am sick of devendra banhart...like that makes any sense what so ever (when am i ever sick of devendra...?)
wow i sound pretentious....
on 2009-05-26 mountaloha Said:
I feel like i'm listening to Pearl Jam and The Dave Matthews Band at the same time. Not a terrible combo, but I can't get that sound and image out of my head.