The Organ

Grab That Gun

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The Organ's 2002 debut EP Sinking Hearts was more captivating than most of that year's full-length releases: over the course of just 15 minutes, the band crafted chiaroscuro meditations on falling in and out of love that were just as light and jangly as they were dark and brooding. The EP was a promising beginning, and Grab That Gun, the Organ's first album, builds on that promise by delivering more appealingly moody music instead of reinventing the band's sound. It's tempting, initially, to be slightly disappointed that the Organ didn't broaden its sonic territory. But, even though the music remains remarkably focused, Grab That Gun proves that the band has plenty of room for expression within its rather limited palette of droning organs, succinct drumming and sharp, upturned guitar lines that give new meaning to the term "hook." While this sound comes from the legacy of '80s college rock -- at times suggesting a fusion of the Smiths' witty, bouncy melancholy and the on-the-sleeve passion of Throwing Muses -- and also has ties to some of the other bands remaking new wave and post-punk in their own images, the Organ and Grab That Gun have a freshness that isn't often heard in any kind of rock music. This is partly due to the simplicity of the band's playing; some call it amateurish, although innocent is probably a more apt description. There's also a remarkable sincerity to the band's music, a large part of which comes from singer Katie Sketch's striking vocals and lyrics. Like the Muses' Kristin Hersh, Sketch possesses a voice that's vulnerable, self-assured and ever so slightly unearthly. And though lyrics like "There is nothing I can do / But cut and think about you" and "Our hearts didn't come together / But I saw the two collide" can seem like the worst kind of diary rants on paper, they're more dramatic than drama queen when Sketch sings them. Melancholy covers Grab That Gun like a reverse umbrella, particularly on "Steven Smith" and "There Is Nothing I Can Do." However, the Organ's songs are too short to allow wallowing, and even within the album's consistent sound and mood, undercurrents of joy and energy make their way to the surface on tracks like the gorgeous breakup song "No One Has Ever Looked So Dead." Likewise, "I Am Not Surprised," one of the band's most kinetic numbers, also showcases the Organ's ability to make its namesake instrument sound dour or cheery in an eye-blink. Both of these songs originated on Sinking Hearts, and songs from the EP make up almost half of Grab That Gun. However, the album has its own identity; the forceful first track "Brother" shows that the band's focus is growing ever sharper, and more languid; atmospheric songs like "A Sudden Death" add an ebb and flow that Sinking Hearts didn't have. Even though the album is in many ways more of the same, with a band like this, that's far from a bad thing. Grab That Gun is a fine debut that captures the Organ's knack for writing strangely timeless, and beautifully sad, songs.

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