The full name of this album is A Celebration Of Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight and it has become a de facto tribute album to the band’s songwriter Scott Hutchison, who took his own life last year.
It was recorded before he died; the covers are not mournful, more life-affirming. This is how it should be, although they lack the sharpness that bands recording after he died might have injected.
It’s not a repeat of the album: Biffy Clyro (perhaps the biggest name to appear, although The National’s Aaron Dessner, Craig Finn of the Hold Steady and Josh Ritter also contribute) perform The Modern Leper, as does Julien Baker, it’s one of several songs covered twice.
FR are one of those bands that spoke to people with mental health issues. Biffy’s opener The Modern Leper is a good example of why the band appealed: “A cripple walks among you / All you tired human beings / He’s got all the things a cripple has not / Two working arms and legs”, adding “You see, I’ve got this disease.”
Head Rolls Off addresses death rather optimistically: “It’s not morbid at all just when nature’s had enough of you”, Hutchison wrote: “And while I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth,” giving the album its title.
Love also figures: I Feel Better is a thoughtful commentary on breaking up, while Old Old Fashioned expresses nostalgia for the early days of a tired relationship, using imagery from the days when people listened to the radio: “So give me soft, soft static / With a human voice underneath.”
Keep Yourself Warm appears to be about the emptiness of casual sex, where there is no warmth other than brief bodily heat, while The Twist praises casual sex, “I can be who you like / And I’ll quietly leave before it gets light.”
The Twilight Sad cover Floating In The Forth, with its now-disquieting line “I’ll think I’ll save suicide for another year.”
“Is there peace beneath / The roar of the Forth Road Bridge?” Hutchison asks. Sadly, he now knows.
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