Love Letter To A Record: Sea Girls On Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Oli Khan, Sea Girls: Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight (2008)

I’m very aware that this album means a lot to a great deal of people, and everyone will have different reasons for why it resonates with them. Over the years I’ve found it a good litmus test for whether I’ll get along with someone. I’m sure some assholes love this album too but I haven’t met any yet.

I discovered Frightened Rabbit at a long-defunct festival in Leicester in 2010. There wasn’t anyone playing at the time that I knew so I wandered to the second stage to see what was on. The moment that ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ started I knew I was watching something special. “It takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm” stopped me in my tracks. I can still remember that moment so clearly and those lyrics still hit as hard as the first time I heard it. When I got home I downloaded the few Frightened Rabbit songs I could scrounge off Limewire and played them to death. I can still remember the annoying hum in my right ear on the corrupted version of ‘Good Arms vs Bad Arms’. As soon I could get to a record store I bought the CD and finally properly fell in love with the album. CDs were well into their descent but it still felt special to own it, it might well have been one of the last I ever bought.

At 17 I was emerging from a teenage lust for pop-punk and moving into much broader territory, devouring as much music as I could find. Midnight Organ Fight still has those big choruses I loved but it felt like so much more to me. The instrumentation is deft and diverse but never outstays its welcome, serving the vocals and the story in the best possible way. The truly amazing thing about this album is how personal it is, how Scott pulls you in and shares his every thought with you. With so many great albums it seems absurd to think of someone actually sitting down and writing ‘Ziggy Stardust’ or ‘Born to Run’, they seem like they were plucked fully formed from the ether. With The Midnight Organ Fight I can totally imagine Scott sitting down and just bleeding out everything he was thinking at the time. The lyrics are devastatingly causal, full of rage, regret but also hope and real warmth. The record is scattered with lines that just cut through your soul, and you can hear his voice crack and twist with emotion throughout.

I was lucky enough to see Scott play solo (accompanied by his brother on drums) supporting Neutral Milk Hotel in Edinburgh years later. He was so obviously humbled to be supporting one of his favourite bands and his joy was infectious. Since his death in 2018, the song ‘Floating in the Forth’ has taken on even more poignancy to the point of being hard to listen to. I couldn’t listen to it for about a month and when I finally did, whilst driving back from a show with Andrew (bass player), we just sat in a numb silence for about 5 minutes. But, as bleak as some of the moments are on the album, it never seems dreary or wallows in itself. It’s euphoric and life-affirming and the instrumentation and melodies lift you up and transform human feelings into hymns for a world that can cut you down as quickly as it builds you up.

So find a nice cold day, put a big coat on, go for a walk and listen to the whole album, you won’t regret it.

Sea Girls’ forthcoming new EP, ‘Under Exit Lights’, is out March 6. Listen to new single Ready For More’ here below.

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