Review Summary: This probably did not need another review
There's a small patch of knee-length grass alongside the Erie Canal, near where I used to live in Rochester, NY. Just beyond the closest canal locks to my apartment, the grass sloped from the walking path alongside the water. Hissing with humidity and the buzz of insect life in the summer, and silent under tombs of snow in the winter, this is the place I most associate with Midnight Organ Fight. Early into the album, as I set out on a walk, this little stretch was inevitably the place where the album settled in. Usually immediately, around the opening chords.
Modern Leper descends into a satisfyingly rhythmic locomotion, inviting you into a scene so vivid, it feels like you were there long before the song had even started. Halfway through it, you can be listening for the first time and still be guaranteed to sing along, as if the words were plucked from your own subconscious. But of course, Scott Hutchinson wrote them, just like he wrote all the lyrics in Midnight Organ Fight, one of the most honest pieces of art to ever tackle grief.
Grief is often portrayed as a monolith of sadness and despair. On Midnight Organ Fight, which is primarily concerned with recounting the grief associated with a broken relationship, it is depicted with a lurching energy, swinging wildly between a euphoric lust for life, and a contemplation and self-awareness unsparing in its honesty, wry in its humor, and yes, seemingly endless in its opportunities for heartbreak. The listener swings from the winking, half-smirking, “forcing yourself to go out and have some fun” songs like I Feel Better and The Twist – to devastating songs like Fast Blood, and the whole second half of the album, unflinching in their sonic and lyrical depiction of a person coming to terms with their new reality, and the pain of how they got there. Although transitions in the album come frequently, the album's primary tonal shift comes on the instrumental Bright Pink Bookmark, the song's vocal harmonies sweetly interlacing with its increasingly energetic horn section, before bowing out on one long note to let the relatively sparse beginning of Heads Roll Off come into its own.
By the time Poke comes around (and there's no way for me to describe this song-just listen to it), you most likely have your own version of my patch along the Erie Canal. Some experience hyper specific to the music, completely entwined with each chord, each lyric sung in expressive Scottish brogue. The album is so visceral, so intensely concerned with depicting the messiness of raw feeling, it is impossible for it to not leave some sort of imprint on your very real memories, or your own very real experience of grief. On your experience of love too.