While dancing on the outskirts of fame, Scottish band FRIGHTENED RABBIT released their most prominent work in 2008. It was titled, The Midnight Organ Fight, and to this day, it is their seminal masterpiece. It’s acclaimed, and still played heavily through earphones on trains, and when people just want to feel true emotion. It isn’t popular or attached to the mainstream underbelly, its pure, its instrumental, and it plays gloriously…
This review may be of a record which was released ten years ago, but it’s an album of truth, desire, pain and misfortune. It resonates, and it manages to connect through its raw topics. Highlighting it again will release memories and beauty, delving in again, will spark cathartic feelings.
Emotion drives us. We become tearful when we see something which dies or listen to something ultimately cathartic and somber. We strive to be joyous and elated, we need an infusion of happiness to carry on. There’s plenty of art which draws out emotion, wither it be a drawing, a painting, and even a piece of music. Scottish band Frightened Rabbit are pioneers of trying to draw out the fire and replace it with a cooling feeling. They’re musicians of the highest order. Yes there has been collisions with depression and anxiety, but through sound and voices this act tell us stories of their past in such a commanding way.
The band commenced their workings in 2006 with their debut album Sing The Greys, in which they delivered songs of cut up feelings and depressive actions. It is an opus of true rawness and punch, louder than bombs, sharp like serrated knives. Jagged hopes mounted up the band member’s minds, but the collection received praise. From then, the outfit have struck complete gold, with their compendium
The Midnight Organ Fight is a wonder. A strategic, masterstroke, worthy of ongoing acclaim. It might be a dark, depressive, album, but it forms discussions, it resonates. Lead singer/songwriter Scott Hutchison spills his mind, he lets us in to his whirlwind world. By doing so we get the feeling he is hurt and misunderstood, disenchanted and withdrawn from society. And on the evidence of The Midnight Organ Fight, the main commander of words, is deeply angry and enraged.
Hutchison also dreams out loud, forming stories which are gloomy but highly original. He thinks he’s doomed for evermore, but that’s his mind-set corrupted by hazardous demons and disconnected happiness. He’s managing to stay sane, and utilizes words as coping mechanisms. His work shouldn’t be misjudged, it is unbelievably concise and beautifully connected to create astounding metaphors. On this record, he truly showcases such emphatic talent. And alongside his gifted team, he carries a torch of reason.
The Midnight Organ Fight starts with an astounding track: The Modern Leper begins the fight with resolute guitar strokes and commanding vocals from Hutchison. He sings about crippling someone’s heart a hundred times: ‘Well I crippled your heart a hundred times and still can’t work out why, you see, I’ve got this disease I can’t shake and I’m just rattling through life…’
As The Modern Leper plays on, there’s a sense of man losing it all his love and going through life half alive. It is a song which creates a scene.
Good Arms Vs Bad Arms continues the struggle of love. Hutchison’s Scottish twang delivers these bitter lyrics: ‘I decided this decision some six months ago, so I’ll stick to my guns, but from now on its war, I am armed with the past, and the will, and a brick I might not want you back, but I want to kill him’ — it’s a track destined to hit hearts and minds with a almighty thump.
Backwards Walk an acoustic song describing a man with faults. He’s truly breaking down like an overly worked engine: ‘I’m working on my faults and cracks, Filling in the blanks and gaps, and when I write them out they don’t make sense I need you to pencil in the rest’ — it also conveys love bursting with poisonous results. Keep Yourself Warm dazzles lyrically: ‘I’m drunk, I’m drunk, and you’re probably on pills, If we both got the same diseases, It’s irrelevant, girl…’ yet again this girl appears from the shadows, impure and walking down a disastrous path. Hutchison belts out his voice and the guitar is played with stern hands.
Floating In The Forth is an emotional contribution. It is delivered in a gritty way with acoustic melodies in the background. These lyrics showcase wonderful wordplay: ‘So you just stepped out, of the front of my house, and I’ll never see you again., I closed my eyes for a second and when they opened, you weren’t there, And the door shut shut, I was, vacuum packed, shrink-wrapped out of air, And the spine collapsed, and the eyes rolled, back, to stare at my starving brain.’
Frightened Rabbit breathed life into the indie genre with A Midnight Organ Fight. It is a record which monumentally pulls at the heart-strings without losing its grip for a long while. The record also highlights pain and hardship in such a graphic way but it doesn’t blemish this band’s unparalleled talent.
Words: Mark Mcconville
Editor’s note: In March 2018, Frightened Rabbit embarked upon a ten-year anniversary tour in support of The Midnight Organ Fight. On 9th May 2018, Scott Hutchison was reported missing by Scottish police. On 10th May, police found a body at Port Edgar in South Queensferry, which was confirmed to be Hutchison’s.
The band issued the following statement:
There are no words to describe the overwhelming sadness and pain that comes with the death of our beloved Scott, but to know he is no longer suffering brings us some comfort. Reading messages of support and hope from those he has helped through his art has helped immensely and we encourage you all to continue doing this. He will be missed by all of us and his absence will always be felt but he leaves a legacy of hope, kindness and colour that will forever be remembered and shared. Rest peacefully Scott. Much love.
— Grant, Billy, Andy and Simon
Tiny Changes is a Scottish mental health charity set up in memory of Scott Hutchison with a focus on young people and children.