Frightened Rabbit
The Midnight Organ Fight


4.5
superb

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
December 1st, 2008 | 163 replies | 22,578 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Leave the rest at arm's length; I'm not ready to see you this happy / And leave the rest at arm's length; I'm still in love with you, can't admit it yet.

As you're reading these words, unless you are entirely new to the concept of music criticism, you probably have some sort of pre-conception of how the next few minutes are going to turn out. Music creates an expectation in much the same way, especially when they're a band you haven't heard of before, as will be the case for many with Scottish indie-rock outfit Frightened Rabbit.

In music, these pre-conceptions are formed off the back of art, titles, press releases, lead singles, appearances and concepts. It's fair to say that in this regard, the person that decides how Frightened Rabbit present themselves has done an immaculate job; the sense of gritty realism offered by The Midnight Organ Fight's sleeve alone is an accurate reflection of the music contained inside. Unfortunately, that's not enough to capture what this record is about, but there are very few first impressions that could do it sufficient justice. As far as coherent opinions go, TMOF is a difficult creature, a dizzying experience which takes a lot out of you. It has the words of Scott Hutchison, guitars, folk influence, an indie skeleton and some of the best pop songwriting you're likely to come across this year.

If you were to hear The Modern Leper, the opening track to Frightened Rabbit's second LP, you might expect a chorus-heavy pop-folk record with infectious beats and arguably the cleverest lyrics ever to come out of Britain; you'd be partly correct. If you heard the slower, wistful guitar work of My Backwards Walk, forming a downtempo and mellow wall of sound, you might think you'd be in for a slow-burning, romantic set of songs with raw, honest emotion all over the place; you'd be partly correct. And if you heard any of the three magnificent interludes which tie The Midnight Organ Fight together as an enchanting, flowing whole, you might predict a faintly transcendent aura to surround everything Frightened Rabbit produce, and you would again be very definitely partly right.

The trouble is that The Midnight Organ Fight is the sum of its parts and so much more. It documents a painful break-up over the course of its runtime handled with such realism and introspection it actually makes you think while you listen; Hutchison's desperate delivery makes even the crudest of lines sound endearing, so that when he croons "You're the shit and I'm knee deep in it" at the end of My Backwards Walk, it's inescapably moving. His lyrics knowingly contradict each other, finding meaningless sex fulfilling on The Twist and then condemning it on Keep Yourself Warm, and it's this honesty that renders every song here so convincing; in Frightened Rabbit's world, people are flawed and confused, and still absolutely beautiful.

The music is just as down-to-earth, sittingly proudly between folk and indie in a groove that the band have carved for themselves out of absolutely nowhere (their previous effort, Sing The Greys, was a hit-and-miss affair). Every organ chord and guitar riff is endlessly uplifting and the rhythm section enables every peak and lull (in terms of pace and volume, never quality) to achieve its desired effect, like the chorus of Fast Blood which has Hutchison's shouted Scottish vocals over a veritable barrage of guitars and drums, and the subtly moving Poke which sits atop a picked acoustic and builds to a cliff's-edge anti-anti-climax. Despite the obvious pop sensibilities, there's no musical formula here; the choruses are often the centrepieces to the tracks but there's a wonderful sense of completeness that just will not go away.

On The Midnight Organ Fight, Frightened Rabbit succeed in mixing indie rock and traces of folk into 48 minutes of driven and emotional melodies that lift you up, beat you down and eventually bring closure. It's thoughtful but not self-involved, accessible but by no means generic, and brilliantly energetic but not without its more tender moments. This is one of 2008's best albums, and in a just world would see Frightened Rabbit catapulted to the mainstream fame they clearly deserve.



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user ratings (507)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
December 1st 2008



10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

well short. ah well. i think this could become one of my favourite albums ever and it's so hard to explain why.

Avirov
December 2nd 2008



1206 Comments


Well, I'm certainly going to look it up. Good review, very fluent and a fun read.

plane
Staff Reviewer
December 2nd 2008



6092 Comments


This is a wonderful review. Too bad I disagree, especially since you apply negatives to 2/3 of the only tracks I enjoy.This Message Edited On 12.02.08

Kiran
Emeritus
December 2nd 2008



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

At first I didn't like this at all, around a 2 rating area, and then gradually over the course of about 6 months this managed to creep its way up to a 4.

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

bobthebug
December 2nd 2008



6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I discovered them 2 weeks ago at the Crossing Border festival in The Hague. Very promising band!

foreverendeared
December 2nd 2008



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

endearing lyrics
forever endeared
good review, this will be around 35 or 40 on my top 50 albums of 2008

joshuatree
Emeritus
December 2nd 2008



3743 Comments


really good review, might get this

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
January 5th 2009



862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Got this a couple weeks ago after reading your review, which is awesome by the way. Really great album, but some of the tracks are head over heels better than others, and a couple of them, for me at least, are the one's you applied negatives too.

I also sometimes get the feeling the singer sometimes overdoes his Scottish accent and it sounds sort of gimmicky. Maybe he does just have a really strong accent, it just doesn't sit well with me in certain parts.

The Modern Leper simply rules though, cannot stop listening to that song.

Kiran
Emeritus
January 5th 2009



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If you want to hear an overdone Scottish accent, give Glasvegas a listen! but yeah, I agree that he does at times over do the accent to milk it for all its worth in the sort of fashion that made everyone start going 'that arctic monkeys guys accent is awesome' but its entirely bearable, unlike Glasvegas. The Arctic Monkeys, of course, actually do sing like that normally, but its that sort of charm in the accent that a lot of UK artists try to mimic nowadays but end up sounding gimmicky.

This was completely overlooked on pretty much every 2008 top 50 list This Message Edited On 01.05.09

Knott-
Emeritus
January 5th 2009



10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I genuinely was nit-picking about the 'negatives' with the only bits of the album that even slightly seemed not to fit to me. I don't think there's a single bad track here. Good Arms v Bad Arms is probably my least favourite track and I still adore it.

foreverendeared
January 5th 2009



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This was completely overlooked on pretty much every 2008 top 50 list
not mine! :]

Knott-
Emeritus
March 22nd 2009



10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

major dig at the moment.

they were awesome when i saw them in sheffield.

fast blood & the twist & modern leper & keep yourself warm & poke & my backwards walk & floating in the forth...

album is so good.

natey
April 26th 2009



4170 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

crushingly good

Kiran
Emeritus
April 26th 2009



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album still rules

STOP SHOUTING!
April 29th 2009



631 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I deliberately try not to listen to this album, because otherwise I know I will play it all the time and eventually get fed up with it, if that makes sense.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2009



17204 Comments


I have had this for a week or so now and i've just had Modern Leper on constant repeat. so good.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 12th 2009



10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

when i first got it that's what i did, too, but everything else caught it up over the next few months and yeah, this is genuinely so complete & awesome, it just sort of crept up slowly and one day i turned round and was like, shit, this is SO fucking good.

also the negatives in this review are such bullshit i'm going to edit this when i get the chance, keep it a 4.5 objectively but switch it round a bitThis Message Edited On 05.12.09

MassiveAttack
May 12th 2009



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yea this album does own, but what is remarkable is I'm not even in this type of stuff. The vocals more so than anything else as I'm usually irritated with the vocals from most bands (that have the similar approach), but it works really good on here.

This Message Edited On 05.12.09

Knott-
Emeritus
May 12th 2009



10195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

what bands that have a similar approach massive? i can't wait for these guys' next record i could do with something to tide me over. not that this has EVER gotten old haha.

MassiveAttack
May 12th 2009



2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ugh, I'm not talking about the overall sound, I'm stating that the vocals that are bit (dare I say whiney), lol. I wouldn't know where to start, but I could offer some suggestions.

Idlewild (obvious choice, vocals are extremely similar and the topics of choice aren't something I'd usually like, but hey they're great)
Islands (Never heard of 'em, but I hear they're similar)
The National (Have yet to listen to these guys as well, heard great things.)


This Message Edited On 05.12.09



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