Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight
Record Label: FatCat Records
Release Date: April 15, 2008
We, the loyal constituents of Absolutepunk.net, stand accused of a most grievous crime and it’s about damn time that we owned up. As the end of the year approaches and talk of hits, misses, and AOTY’s begins to heat up, we owe it to ourselves to just admit what we’ve done. Sigh. I’m ready if you are, let’s all say it together: other than a couple of furtivewhispers in the forums, the vast majority of us ignored release of Frightened Rabbit’s Midnight Organ Fight. I agree, it’s certainly disappointing given the strict standards of excellence and attentiveness upheld in these hallowed halls of the interwebz. But hey, these things happen, and now that we’ve confessed to our misdeeds, we can move forward in collective celebration a fantastic album.
Begun as the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Scott Hutchinson in 2003, Frightened Rabbit gradually accreted members, adding drummer Grant Hutchinson in 2004 and multi-instrumentalists Billy Kennedy and Andy Monaghan in 2006 and 2008, respectively. If the band members’ names weren’t enough of a giveaway, then Hutchinson’s distinctive vocals should hint at the fact that these guys aren’t exactly from around here. It’s taken a few years, but Selkirk, Scotland’s finest are beginning to grab some attention on the international scene. A recent appearance at a tense moment on the soundtrack of NBC’s Chuck should be a sign that Frightened Rabbit is poised to make the jump across the pond.
It’s not all swanky Scottish accents and television gigs that got them there. Midnight Organ Fight is as sophisticated and emotive as its mood is empty and desperate. It reeks of senseless sex and anxious alcohol. The music is slumped over on itself, looking alternately over its shoulder into an endlessly idealized past and down its nose at a cold bed and a hangover. Hutchinson identifies himself as an amputee incapable of love (“The Modern Leper”), a prisoner trapped between parentheses (“I Feel Better”), and one in a long line of sweaty dance partners (“Poke”). He threatens the new flame of an ex-lover in the rolling guitars and brushed percussion of “Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms”: “I am armed with the past, and the will, and a brick/ I might not want you back, but I want to kill him.” The album’s most well-known tune, “Keep Yourself Warm,” finds Hutchinson creeping between the sheets of a stranger, knowing full well that it won’t bring him any closer to the love he so feverishly seeks.
Yes, it’s bleak, wandering, and wanton. Somehow, though, the music remains strangely approachable, and damn near uplifting. The picked guitars featured throughout Midnight Organ Fight aren’t quite folky, but they’re still warm and inviting. There’s a massive weight held on the songs’ shoulders, but at no point is the listener expected to carry it. We need only walk alongside as Grant Hutchinson’s persistent drumming keeps the album on point, driving the tunes home without overplaying his hand.
It’s a very grownup thing we’ve done here today, folks, and we should be very proud of ourselves. Maybe we don’t hit them all, but this was a pretty egregious oversight. Midnight Organ Fight is the most listenable and inviting story of self-pity, self-loathing, and self-destruction that has been released in quite a while, and it’s time we took notice. Grab the album, a beer, and a seat at the worn wood of the bar, and let Frightened Rabbit tell you about loneliness.
Snow Patrol? Matt Pond PA? You're clearly not giving the lead singer enough credit for his vocal emotion or brilliant lyrics nor the band for its musical talent. It's more like a Scottish version of Manchester Orchestra meets The National. It should be straight 10s all the way down. Decent review considering this should have been reviewed and highlighted through the entire year already and not when people here have been so terribly misled and believe Lydia and Copeland somehow made the best albums of the year. It's downright embarrassing and you got that right. Album of the year right here. /semi-joking rant ;)