Hello readers, resident sadboi Caleb here today with the first entry in my new series “Keep It On Wax” in which I review albums from my personal record collection. Reviewing and putting the spotlight on new releases is good; I believe some albums deserve to be revisited a number of times. It’s also a platform in which to promote the physical release of music, something that is getting taken for granted these days, even with the growth in vinyl sales. I’ll also (where applicable) throw out some links so you can purchase these fine albums yourself.
With this being my inaugural piece, I decided to make it slightly more special.
I was digging through my records for something that stood out and instantly I was drawn to ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ by Frightened Rabbit.
Frontman Scott Hutchison has been the centre of news tragically passing away this month after disappearing for a few days. It only seemed right that I choose my favourite album by them which also celebrates its tenth birthday this year. Thank you for all of the years of honest music Scott, you helped so many.
The Scottish indie group sound familiar at first; you would possibly write them off as “just another indie band”. If you inspect further, you can see why Frightened Rabbit are a stand out band. In terms of the more indie pop side of this album, nothing hits harder than the opening track ‘The Modern Leper’ the whole band come together showing off both their individual talents and the tightness of the musical relationship between them. You find yourself wanting to stomp your foot along to Grant’s drumming crashing over the mid-tempo mix of both acoustic and electric guitar. Again, this isn’t new. We’ve seen bands do it before and they’ll do it again. Maybe on your second listen is when you realise what is making this song so special. Scott’s brutally honest lyrics, they’re pure and real. “You see, I’ve got this disease I can’t shake and I’m just rattling through life.” these words which are masterfully stitched together with emotion later followed by the now incredibly poignant line such as “I am ill but I’m not dead and I don’t know which of those I’d prefer because that limb which I have lost, it was the only thing holding me up.” It is self-loathing in the best way. Scott is aware that just because he is hurt it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is the victim.
The second track ‘I Feel Better’ brings the energy down slightly after the first track. Normally this would be a negative aspect but it’s testament to how incredible ‘The Modern Leper’ is and how confident the band are in their music. Most bands wouldn’t open an album with what is arguably the best track especially when the energy it exudes is so powerful. Yet they did and it continues to get slower by the third track ‘Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms’ which if not for the distinct vocals and lyrics such as “I decided this decision some six months ago, so I’ll stick to my guns but from now on its war.” and “I might not want you back but I want to kill him.” would have you checking you were listening to the same band as it transgresses into more of an acoustic folk. The following track Fast Blood ramps it back up to an indie trio that you can bop along to. The album follows this trend throughout but never really brings back the energy of its opening track.
I would imagine this is on purpose, it feels as if they wanted to grab your attention violently and once they’ve got you slowly release the grip and you’re staying because you relate to the change in energy on a very raw and personal level.
The penultimate ‘Floating in the Forth’ track might just be the most honest lyrically. Words that anyone who has found life a struggle and/or deal with negative thoughts on a daily basis will find solace in. “I was vacuum packed, shrink-wrapped out of air and the spine collapsed and the eyes rolled back to stare at my starving brain.” Dealing with the pain after a break-up and the despair one feels when they believe they are alone this song can seem achingly familiar. The last line on the track posthumously is heart breaking “I think I’ll save suicide for another year.” What originally filled you with hope that even through this entire struggle you had survived and found the will to carry on is what makes this song so beautiful. The song will always achieve that but it was on the marina banks of the Firth of Forth that 10 years later Scott’s body was found.
Rest in peace Scott, you won’t hurt anymore.
In conclusion, I would say that Frightened Rabbit’s second release is one that should find itself in everyone’s collection. It’s a love letter to heartbreak and depression that holds your hand through the hard times and now serves as a reminder of one of the greatest songwriters Scotland ever had the privilege of creating.
Before I move on to what would be the purchase part of this segment, I would personally like to add that if you or anyone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts please contact your local crisis line or Samaritans, no-one should suffer alone and just knowing somebody is there may just be enough.
You can buy ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ from most major record stores and several independents such as the following (Whilst most say out of stock, you should find it will be available again soon.) –