Let's get it out of the way. All you need to know about The Organ, apparently, is that they're The Smiths fronted by Debbie Harry instead of Morrissey. In fact, they're an all-girl take on The Smiths and if not Harry on the mic then Siouxsie Sioux, or even Sandie Shaw. (That took a great deal of imagination!) Convinced? Let's review the evidence.
Since lazy journalism is something of a pet hate, I ought to explain that this does merit examination. You will see why, but let's begin with something a little more tenable. The Organ are a Vancouver based quintet who, like compatriots The Dears and The Stills, have discovered the best of the mid 80s and set about mining it for all its worth. It's true too, opening track Brother has a distinctly Smiths structure, particularly in the verses. Driven by the rhythm section and punctuated by jagged guitar picks, Brother could be a relative of, say, This Charming Man. And when vocalist Katie Sketch urges us to "lie down in a field if you can, look at the night sky, oh where does it end?", you can't help wondering if there isn't a punctured bicycle beside you.
Here's where the critics miss the point. The Organ aren't The Smiths minus Morrissey. It's in Sketch's atonal vocals and wistful writings where the similarities can be most felt. Guitarist Debora Cohen would never claim to be a Marr. She plays with all the hesitant deliberation of somebody getting the song right for the first time in rehearsals. It adds considerable charm to the recording in my opinion. Drumming and bass are faultless but more often than not submerged by a shrill organ. Not yet the driving, tour de force of Joyce and Rourke.
Are The Organ themselves shy of such illustrious parallels? "Most die in
your bedroom" implores the albums second song entitled……… Steven Smith.
That'd be a no, then! In this respect they are more comparable with the scene
that The Smiths spawned: the raft of twee, jangly guitar, circa-1986 bands
in thrall to Morrissey. Twenty years on, The Organ are C06!
Grab That Gun may only be a heartbeat longer than 30 minutes, but it is quality from start to finish. It is almost as though the label said, "Give us three of four radio-friendly tracks and the rest can be filler". The girls ignored this and delivered eleven singles. No slow one, no ballad, no epic, spaghetti western elegy. Just a procession of toe-tappers. A triumph of consistency over variety and, perhaps, the perfect, ready-made album for the download generation? Fine for starters, but they will need to show expansion on their next effort.
Keep tabs on The Organ. While the rest of the band give reasonable impressions of rabbits trapped in headlights, vocalist Katie Sketch skips and sways with that most timeless indie 'it' factor - androgynous sensuality.
I spoke to drummer Shelby at a recent festival and she said, "We know we'll
be judged on our next album. We're aching to get back into the studio but the
label is really keen on touring us hard". Wise heads on young shoulders! But
she didn't grab my gun. I went for Thai Pakora and noodles.