Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight (2008)

4.0 ★/8.0 - 8.9

Musical pet peeve #42: Albums that open with tracks that are so amazingly heart-stopping that the rest of the album pales in comparison. The sophomore album from Scottish indie band, Frightened Rabbit sets itself up to be just that, from the moment "The Modern Leper" hits it's rushing chorus. Argurably, it is that kind of album, but that's unavoidable when you've written one of the single greatest pop songs of the decade. No matter how many times throughout the album that the duo effectively yanks at your heart strings, or how well "The Twist" evolves into a swirling fist-pumper from fairly simple piano figures, or how much unbridled joy bursting out of the square dance, "Old Old Fashioned," or how much spiraling songs like "I Feel Better" and "Fast Blood" rouse and flail at the brim with a hurricane of emotion, the distant memory of that first track's constipated frustration sticks with you; a sneering voice describing the horrors of full-body leprosy, perfectly matched with a shambling acoustic shuffle and a simple riff distorted to sound like a dying rat. It's the brilliance of contrast epitomized in less than 4 minutes. As suggested though, the rest of the album is well-spent. Listening to The Midnight Organ Fight is actually a lot like listening to Badly Drawn Boy's Hour of The Bewilderbeast. There's no denying what a great pop album it is, but it's also difficult to avoid the fact that it's walking on the fringes of something painfully generic. Just as Damon Gough quickly embraced glossy production and shitty anthems for soundtracks, Frightened Rabbit could just as easily be The Fray or any other shitty arena band, under the right restrictions. Still, whatever may become of them later, the band has mastered a stirring and unrestrained style of emotive pop here.

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