Grab That Gun
As a fan of The Smiths, the past few years have been very frustrating. I’ve had to endure the endless array of emo/hardcore bands who draw from the self-pity well of Morrissey to create music that’s completely unlistenable, while the amazing musicality of the band is left in a kind of influential limbo. Many ’80s-centric indie acts like Interpol allude to The Smiths, but largely it’s the darkened dancebeats of the New Romantics that currently serve as the touchstone of the New Derivatives. With Grab That Gun, the Canadian all-girl five-piece The Organ sets its sights on blowing the collective dust off Meat is Murder and Boys Don’t Cry.
Vocalist Katie Sketch does the best femme Morrissey impression since Sonya Madan of Echobelly. Elongated vowels and off-kilter verse-chorus structure are a perfect fit for her aching monotone. Sketch’s wit doesn’t quite measure up to the masterly Moz, but this is, after all, the band’s first full-length. Give her time…
As with The Smiths, The Organ’s guitarist, Debora Cohen, is the star of the show. Like Johnny Marr, she’s very skilled in subtlety and dexterity, turning riffs from a restrained Byrds-ian jangle to stretched concertina wire many times through the course of a song. Jenny Smyth’s organ isn’t nearly as pervasive as the band’s name might indicate, though it does start to usurp the guitar during the disc’s mid-section; “Sinking Hearts” feels especially mortuary-like.
The band’s melodies and phrasing are timeless. More than coming off as rote homage to British post-punk, The Organ feels like the genuine article, forgotten for decades, but finally unearthed. The band plays dark music, to be sure. But even in its bleakest moments, the group recognizes the need for there to be a light that never goes out, and they’re doing their best to fan the flame.