Fire And Ice
The Playwrights and The Organ
Mr Wolfís Noddle Bar, Bristol. March 31st 2005.
They may have had to undergo some personnel changes in recent months, but regardless, The Playwrights continue to sound magnificent, making a gyrating Beat Noise outtasight Pop Cacophony. I just donít understand why this group are not massive. I just donít understand why Ďcriticsí the land over are not leaping in the air and proclaiming their genius. Their songs are intelligent and dynamic; songs with barbed hooks big enough to land a Great White and enough smarts to set up a discussion group if such an idea werenít anathema to the whole spirit of natural, instinctual Pop. The Playwrights make you want to move, make you want to dance your socks off, as all the while you revel in their post-situationist art school practice. Anger never sounded so clever. Cleverness never sounded so angry.

And because I love The Playwrights so much, I have to say this too: the devil is in the detail, and the detail can let you down. Now I have always had problems with groups whose members wear t-shirts for other bands whilst on stage. Maybe itís just me, but really, itís just not on. So whilst the Fugazi reference in question might well be one worth making (personally Iíve never been a fan and I donít think it IS a reference worth), itís not one that needs to be made explicit in black and white. Or white on dark blue, as I think was the case. Bring back the uniformity of band identities. Bring back school uniform grey jumpers and red shirts. You know, I always thought Lawrence had the right idea when he told his band what, and more importantly what not to wear. That kind of leadership is important.

The Organ donít have a uniform as such but they are all uniformly cool; are mesmerising, magical, mythic in the making. In contrast to The Playwrights they barely move. The guitarist stands like sheís in a game of charades, picking out bewilderingly beautiful lines with the minimum of movement. Itís exquisite. The singer meanwhile clutches her hair and closes her eyes, lost in her melody haunted reveries. She looks iconic in the hard light of the floor mounted halogen spots, shadows playing on the walls and ceiling. The songs seem to float effortlessly out into the air, as if they were beamed into existence from some mysterious Pop Factory in the stars, The Organ merely some conduit through which the magic streams. And really, isnít that true of all the greatest Pop?

Sonically, sure, itís hard to escape the early Ď80s reference points. The hinted at Joy Division allusion is there in soul if not exactly body, though the basslines have a tint of Hook about them in their supple grace. Similarly though you could say there are nods to Dub, and you wouldnít be wrong. Much more relevant though, as I think I will tire soon of saying (but not yet!) is the Invisible Girls reference. There are more than a few touches of Pauline Murrayís reverbed vocals in the sound of The Organ, and more than any they are a group who truly deserve a contemporary Martin Hannett to guide and sculpt their sound with hands of ice and fire.

If you havenít seen or heard either group yet, do yourself a favour and treat yourself soon.

© 2005 Alistair Fitchett

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