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The Organ: Sinking Hearts (2002)

October 4, 2013

The Organ Sinking Hearts Artwork

Roll: 4-8-15
Album: The Organ, Sinking Hearts

It would have 2002, shortly after Sinking Hearts came out, I was standing beside my buddy Andrew, between the bar and the stage of The Cambie in Nanaimo watching The Organ. He was, at the time, my boss at the record store so he knew I had been crushing hard on the band for a while.

He said, “Still in love?”

I said, “Yeah,”

He said, “I don’t think you’re their type.”

Taking his meaning, I said, “I think you’re probably right.” If all five members weren’t clearly lesbians, at least some of  them were. A few might have been just “arty” but who’s to say and who cares? It was irrelevant to me as I had mainly been seduced by their melancholy Cure-meets-Smiths post-punk indie-pop.

Andrew, hadn’t been.

He said, “This isn’t for me. I thought I’d be able to do this, but I can’t. Enjoy,” patted me on the shoulder and then left to kayak to a small island he was living on with a goat.

For myself, it was exactly for me. I was in school after a hiatus, studying graphic design, and newly single so a lyric like—

Oh goodness me
We’ve got to meet
I need someone to have fun

—sung in a morose monotone resonated with me to the very core of my crush-crazy and romantically jaded heart. No one had spoken to my inner arrested adolescent so profoundly since Morrissey. I was lost and looking for answers to unspoken questions and The Organ seemed to have them.

So someone snuck into your room
And it got back to me
Now, I lie here in my room
And there is nothing I can do

They were one of the bands at the cusp of the millennium’s first post-punk revival and, as a result of Sinking Hearts, I looked for answers in the music of a dozen or so bands riding the same new wave; bands who also borrowed from The Cure, Joy Division, and Gang of Four.

I hung onto my Organ discs, but over the years I discarded albums by MetricRadio 4Bloc PartyMoving Units, and The Rapture as they proved to be style over substance (similar to what the original movement was often accused of being). Where the Organ were influenced by new wave and post-punk, these other bands took a more carbon-copy approach, seemingly as much or more interested in the fashion and graphic design of the era than making honest music. Remove the staccato guitar lines and funky beats from a Radio 4 or Bloc Party song and you aren’t left with much.

Conversely, much like the songs of The Smiths which they do somewhat mimic, The Organ’s songs could have been strummed on an acoustic guitar and been just as affecting. They speak to universal experiences—though not necessarily happy or healthy ones. It really was only icing on the cake that they were wrapped in the sounds and textures of my youth. Sounds which, as it happened, I’d already been immersing myself in like a bath of nostalgic wallowing.

It really shook you when I said
“No one has ever looked so dead”
Well, it’s over and I can’t go there anymore

And in the backseat of your car
You showed me every single star
And how the zenith and the sounds
Change in every single town
Well, it’s over and I can’t go there anymore

I’m pretty sure I spent quite a bit of time literally wallow in a bath listening to those lyrics on repeat.  “Well, it’s over and I can’t go there anymore.” Well, fuck, if that doesn’t boil it all down the essence of the situation. The sheer banality of a broken heart; the conscious admittal that the ego crushing experience of lost love is existentially meaningless.

Remember when I left you
I couldn’t say your name
or other crucial things like I love you,
oh, that’s a shame
I don’t know if you’re hearing
my voice or the reprise
our hearts didn’t come together
but I saw the two collide

Every once in a while a record becomes a door leading into the corridors of your own heart, and when you open it, the light comes in and things look brighter. You can’t ask anymore from a pop record than that.

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