You know those albums that eliminate all traces of doubt from your mind within the first few bars? The Strokes‘ Is This It was one. So was Editors‘ The Back Room, and Arcade Fire‘s Funeral. The Organ’s debut effort Grab That Gun can now be added to that exclusive list – make a note of it.
While they may be an all-female five-piece from western Canada, The Organ are not, contrary to expectations, Alanis Morissette to the power of five. In the same way that Stephen Malkmus drew his sordid sentinels Blightywards, Katie Sketch appears to be something of an anglophile, trading the vast expanses of British Columbia for a damp London studio (aurally speaking, anyway). The effect is easily as effective as it was for Pavement.
Album opener and recent single Brother – the LP’s doubt-annihilating tour de force – is pure Smiths at heart, driving along inside a dark bassline as a jangly guitar picks and jabs at the speaker. Follow-up Steven Smith consolidates with all the same airs and graces, Jenny Smyth’s skewed Hammond organ providing the sugar to Sketch’s salt.
And it doesn’t end there: Love Love Love tweaks the same set of buttons with a songwriting knack so authentic you’d swear it was a faithful cover of some forgotten new wave classic by The Cure or Joy Division; Basement Band does Editors better than they can do themselves; There Is Nothing I Can Do soothes the soundscape, allowing Sketch’s melancholy to roam free (she’s the “Morri-she”, as some clever sod noted recently).
For all of Grab That Gun’s strengths, however, there exists one or two minor gripes. Would it have been such a stretch to vary the instrument set now and then? I realise, of course, that The Organ’s constituent members are happy to trade instruments as they bash out consistently effective songs, but it’s the same guitar, bass, drum and organ approach each and every time. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, you might say, but having heard a tremendous acoustic incarnation of Love Love Love, I’d be loathe to agree with that particular maxim.
But a winning formula is a winning formula nonetheless, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more authentic debut this year. This dark, sassy revivalism fills the gaping hole left by The Breeders that The Like are just too nice to fill, and that’s reason enough for me.