Various Artists – ‘Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’’

By Catie

When ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ came out in 2008, I was 16 years old and navigating my A-levels; that awkward limbo between GCSEs and the freedom of university. Tumblr was peaking in popularity, which provided hormonal teenagers such as myself their first real foray into expressing themselves online away from the prying eyes of friends and family members on Facebook – really baring our hearts and souls for sympathetic strangers.

It was through a couple of people I followed on Tumblr that I discovered Frightened Rabbit, and first listened to ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’. The lyrics insightful and often crude, bursting with angst but still soft and tender. I listened to it over and over again. It’s the kind of album you play late at night in the dark, immersing yourself in the words and sounds as you contemplate existence; physical relationships, emotional relationships, loneliness, regret, hope. To this day, any of the songs make me feel like Scott Hutchison has grabbed me by the wrist and yanked me back 11 years, stirring up feelings and memories that I forgot were there.

‘My Backwards Walk’ remains one of my favourite songs of all time, and I’m convinced that if the crack in Hutchison’s voice at 01:48 (“I’m working on erasing you, just don’t have the proper tools”) doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you simply don’t have feelings. Seeing the 10-year anniversary tour of ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town last year was special, in and of itself, but made even more precious by the devastating events in the weeks that followed.

Honestly? I find ‘Tiny Changes’ difficult to listen to, and it took multiple attempts before I made it the whole way through without turning it off in favour of the original because – as talented and brilliant as this roster of musicians is – they just don’t have quite the same impact. Hutchison’s inner turmoil seems to be, unfairly, what makes his lyrics so vividly human and his delivery so fucking heartbreaking.

Having said that, when you’re ready to hear the songs in a different way (which I initially wasn’t), ‘Tiny Changes’ is an emotional and fitting tribute. It’s interesting, to hear different versions of the same tracks – Biffy Clyro kicks off with ‘This Modern Leper’ with a reassuringly familiar Scottish twang and a progressively punchy twist, which Julien Baker later strips back as she does so effortlessly well.

Oxford Collapse’s cover of ‘I Feel Better’, as the name suggests, provides a little poppy relief, followed by Fiskur’s ‘Good Arms vs Bad Arms’ which I implore you not to bounce your feet along to, and Daughter’s ‘Poke’ is faultless. I’ll spare you a full review of all 17 tracks – but you don’t need me to tell you that anything that involves Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, The National’s Aaron Dessner and Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry – among many others – is worth your time. I will, however, spare a moment of appreciation for Craig Finn and The Twilight Sad, who took on the gut-wrenching covers of ‘Head Rolls Off’ and ‘Floating In The Forth’ with Hutchison’s descriptions of what, tragically, was to come:

“And it’s not morbid at all, just when nature’s had enough of you
When my blood stops, someone else’s will not
When my head rolls off, someone else’s will turn
You can mark my words, I’ll make tiny changes to earth”

It’s all any of us can aspire to, and there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Hutchison succeeded.

CATIE ALLWRIGHT