In the Organ Loft at Midnight, Bobby Aherne’s second solo record after 2020’s Friendship Gift, is another lo-fi gem, and one that trades on a kind of duality, with part of the record written and recorded in pre-Covid Australia, then finished during Covid in Ireland. But it is also Aherne linking back to his younger self that provides the duality, with the album released as a set of collectable bubblegum trading cards, featuring characters pulled from Aherne’s notebooks when he was nine or 10.
Ever singular, Aherne explores the idea of self-connection, and what this translates to on record is pure joy. Don’t Say Goodbye is tropicália meets Talking Heads. Department of Defense mingles lovely bass and gorgeous clarinet lines. Tropical Bird Lingo comes off like an electro-pop Christmas song. You Lit a Candle Wrong brings an epic quality to the mundane everyday. Fortitude Valley is a wistful kind of ballad: “Heard you’re trying to forget your birthday, but the moon always gets the last say.” With its lovely piano, it brings to mind Dirty Projectors mingled with Why?
There is chamber pop on Nudity, a “bluebottle diss track” on No Fly Zone and a jaunty mystery to Hire-a-Heart – no dull moment in the organ loft at midnight. With influences ranging from Joe Meek to Daniel Johnston, this record roots around the past but brings a ramshackle artfulness to the present.