The Midnight Organ Fight


When I was first introduced to the Scottish group Frightened Rabbit, it was from the reissue of their debut album, Sing The Greys. I was immediately struck by the unsheltered emotion that came from frontman Scott Hutchison's vocals, adding such depth and raw honesty to their dark indie pop. I really enjoyed that record, but it wasn't until their sophomore record, The Midnight Organ Fight, that I really came to grasp how insanely talented these lads truly are.

The lyrical content on this album comes straight from the heart, from personal events in Hutchinson's life. In a recent interview, he told me that the entire album is "loosely based on one particular break-up," which explains the cloudy backdrop on which the music is based. Things kick off with "The Modern Leper," sounding quite full while using fairly minimal instrumentation. The strumming of acoustic guitars and simple percussion drive the first half of the track, leading to a thunderous chorus as Hutchison exclaims: "Well is that you, in front of me / Coming back for even more of the same / You must be a masochist to love a modern leper on his last leg." Yeah, this is not cheery stuff in the slightest, but damn it is stunning.

The tone of "I Feel Better" lightens the mood just a bit, with brighter melodies as the song continues to grow and expand throughout its entire duration. Horns and a sea of backing vocals support Hutchison as he proclaims that this is the last song he'll ever write about, well, whoever this breakup was about. This is followed by one of the more beautiful tracks on The Midnight Organ Fight, "Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms." It leans more towards a melancholic folk song, which finally erupts into a spine tingling ending. Frightened Rabbit have mastered the art of constructing absolutely perfect indie pop songs.

The band isn't afraid of following the basic pop song formula when writing a few of these tunes, such as the single "Head Rolls Off." This catchy track could easily win over fans of bands ranging from a broad range of sub genres of rock, yet it isn't until you focus on the words that you truly see their brilliance. The song itself is a somewhat bright, toe-tapping tune, yet lyrically it begins with "Jesus is just a Spanish boy's name/How come one man got so much fame?" A pop track discussing religion, life and what comes after death, is encased in a much less intimidating package.

"Floating In The Forth" is the absolute perfect ending to this amazing album. As the story moves along, the lead character in this story sees his significant other for one final time, contemplates suicide, then realizes that the ending of the relationship actually gives him a chance to move forward. Well, that is a rather shite synopsis, but it does tackle a rather dark topic with an amazing resolution. As Hutchison warbles "I think I'll save suicide for another year," his voice slightly cracking, a church-like chorus gently chimes in, adding just a hint of optimism to the conclusion of this record.

Albums this brilliant don't come along very often. Frightened Rabbit have created a masterpiece of honest, personal tales of a broken relationship, put to some of the finest indie-pop music this year. The band is able to create mesmerizing tapestries of textures and melodies without ever sounding forced or to bombastic. The highs are just as breathtaking as the lows, yet as gloomy as the main theme of this album may be, it is well balanced out with a heart of memorable melodies and outstanding musicianship. The Midnight Organ Fight will without a doubt be one of my personal top albums of 2008.

Frightened Rabbit
FatCat Records

The Midnight Organ Fight