Monday, June 27, 2016

The Midnight Organ Fight

Roughly five years have passed since I heard Frightened Rabbit's The Midnight Organ Fight for the first time, and yet it was only a few weeks ago that I looked at that title again and said to myself, "Hey, that's a euphemism for fucking, isn't it?"

In fact, upon revisiting Organ Fight, I found a lot more references to sex than I remembered. Okay, Keep Yourself Warm was always pretty obviously about casual sexual encounters ("It takes more than fucking someone you don't know to keep warm"), but I never really noticed until now what Scott Hutchison was singing about on songs like The Twist and Fast Blood.

"Midnight organ fight, yours gives in to mine..."

Despite that title, though, I don't believe Organ Fight is actually an album *about* sex. Rather, it's an album about love, and Frightened Rabbit make it abundantly clear that those two things are by no means one and the same ("you won't find love in a hole" sings Hutchison on Keep Yourself Warm). On closer inspection, this album's portrayal of intercourse doesn't even make it seem particularly appealing: The Twist makes the act seem clumsily embarrassing, Keep Yourself Warm mentions "diseases", and the album's very name describes shagging as an "Organ Fight", imbuing the act with both violence and a sort of detachment. It's not two humans having sex - it's just their 'organs'.

Even Fast Blood itself, for all its hyperbole ("This fumble has become biblical, I feel like I just died twice and was reborn again..."), ends on this slightly awkward anticlimax:

"And then I fall down,
I stumble,
And she says:

Sex can feel incredibly intense in the moment, but that intensity doesn't necessarily last once you've clambered out of bed. Poke, one of my favourite songs on the album, find Hutchison and his unnamed beau at the very end of their relationship's tether, and the passion with which their organs once fought has now faded away entirely:

"If someone took a picture of us now, they'd need to be told that we had ever clung and tied, a navy knot with arms at night. 'I'd say she was his sister, but she doesn't have his nose.'"

I love how stripped-back this song is compared to the rest of the album, as if the foggy pheromones and the lusty white lies have been peeled back to reveal the truth of what this partnership always was. Hutchison's vocals feel a lot closer, and you feel almost uncomfortably voyeuristic just listening to him, even though you were perfectly content listening in on his bedroom antics just a few tracks earlier.

So yes, even though The Midnight Organ Fight contains several *songs* about sex, they're simply there to illustrate the difference between sex and the album's real topic: proper, meaningful romantic connections (the true source of that "human heat" Hutchison is so desperate for in The Twist). After all, the organ that's dissected and labelled on the front cover isn't a penis or a vagina - it's a human heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment