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Pink Floyd - Animals CD (album) cover

ANIMALS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.52 | 2612 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

KyleSchmidlin
5 stars I've been into Pink Floyd for many years now, and as such, their music has had time to grow both on me and off me. While I used to be a junkie for The Wall and Wish You Were Here, these albums enjoy minimal rotation now. I used to play Animals an awful lot, too. The difference between it and other Floyd records is that I still do.

There's very little new to say about this album. It's been analyzed and reviewed to death. One thing I tend to see ignored about it, though, and one of its main strengths as I see it, is the album's incredible diversity. It doesn't tend to get noticed. There are only five songs on it, and only three that are the album's true meat and potatoes, and for the most part there are no dramatic mood swings in them or, for that matter, on the album's whole. But when you stop and think about all the parts of each song: there might be acoustic bits; slow, mellow passages where robots quote scripture; subdued animal sound effects; and fast, furious, hard rocking bits with screaming and the 'f'-word. In this regard, the album is like Thick as a Brick (another immovable object in the prog all-time Top 5). That one has just one song, technically, but if you just dropped the needle at any six or seven points on the album you'd never know it. Same is true with this one. And the comparisons to Tull's masterpiece don't end there: both it and Animals begin and end with the same song (or, uh, movement, if that's how you'd prefer to discuss Thick as a Brick).

On Animals, these acoustic pieces are short and lightweight. But they are by no means disposable. In fact, in spite of their combined running times of 3:30, they are as essential to Animals as the 17+ minute "Dogs". Who would want to dive right into that song's D-minor strumming and depressing lyrics about stabbing people in the back and drowning under one's own pompous weight? "Pigs on the Wing" just eases you right into it. And on the other end, would "Sheep" really be a psychologically satisfying ending? Somehow, the two "Pigs on the Wing" tracks manage to make an album ostensibly about betrayal, hypocrisy and slaughter a bearable, even enjoyable experience. But that isn't to say this is the one to spin if you're looking to throw a party. The album is very serious business, and that "Pigs on the Wing" offers some relief doesn't rescue the album as a whole. Think of it like the three middle songs, the album's overwhelming bulk, filling you with sorrow, regret, contempt, and disappointment in society. You're way down where you don't want to be, but all of a sudden "Pigs on the Wing" says "It's just the way things are and you'll never feel any better by dwelling on it."

Which leads logically into the next discussion, a discussion about which no review of Animals could possibly be complete without - the lyrics. As you've probably heard, they are among Waters' very best; his highlight, in fact, with Pink Floyd. Comparisons are often made to Orwell, but to my analysis they owe a far greater debt to Marx. Sure, the allegory is borrowed, but it's modified. This is Roger Waters's very own philosophy, derived in part by Marx and given an Orwellian aesthetic, but still, Roger Waters. The lyrics express all sorts of familiar views, but unlike Marx and Orwell, Waters seems to have little regard, at least on here, for the masses or the proles - his "Sheep". I've always found the album most sympathetic toward the "Dogs". This allegory is usually thought of as referring to the military, police force, business class, middle class, or something like that. I think it can just as easily refer to them all as a collective - society's bulwarks, that 20% or so standing between the bottom 79% and the top 1%. They work hard, they hold naive beliefs, and they think the "Pigs" know what they're doing and are doing their best to make everything OK. One could almost enjoy listening to Animals for the lyrics alone. Fortunately, unlike on some of those other records, the music is also imminently enjoyable.

Much as I love Rick Wright, he can also be one of the more offensive members of this band. Put him behind a real piano and he's one of my favorite keyboard players. Check out the solo in "Us and Them", for instance. But all too often, he digitizes the band's sound. He always uses a tasteful synth tone, of course, but when a Pink Floyd song starts to stagnate or sound tepid, much as I hate to say it, Rick's keyboards are often involved. On Animals, he doesn't do a whole lot, but what he does he does do well - like the intro to "Sheep". But mostly, this is a Gilmour and Waters affair. The album rocks harder than anything they've done before. It's about as grandiose as The Wall, but it sounds far more entitled to its pomposity. I've learned as many of the guitar passages on Animals as I could, and it contains some of Gilmour's finest hours. The leads in "Dogs" whine and bark and sing like Seamus. On "Pigs" he out-Belews Adrian Belew before Belew was even known about by playing a guitar solo in a pig's voice. But try as I might, there's no way I can emulate the incredible crashing noise Gilmour is able to pull from his guitar at the end of the verses on "Sheep". The one that goes, "BA-DA-BAAAAAM", or something like that. It's moments like those which justify Pink Floyd's trademark lack of a sense of humor. Who needs one when you're capable of backing up your seriousness the way they do?

Maybe that's what's best about Animals, at the end of the day. Too often, Floyd sound overblown. As George Starostin ably put it, "Too often, the simplicity of the music is incompatible with the 'grandiosity' of the message." A true and viable criticism of Pink Floyd, which is totally null if you try applying it to Animals. The music here is absolutely compatible with the message, and no more complete package exists in the world of rock music to my knowledge. It's a hallmark of modern music, easily one of the highlights of prog and a strong contender outside the genre as well. Truly, this one is right up there with Abbey Road. Not a wasted second on the album. Even if you might start to think a part of "Dogs" is getting boring, before you know it you're throttled back into the thick of things with the, "Who was born in a house full of pain..." part at the end. It's a psychological thrill ride from beginning to end, and the two "Pigs on the Wing" tracks guarantee that even if you're feeling it during the album's main part, when the record is turned off you can get over it and not dwell on the miserable state of the human condition and the manipulative, advantage-taking reality of capitalism.

No rounding, no ifs or buts, this is a five-star record. I could go on, but this is already the second time I've written a review for this one and I went on for just as long the first time, too.

KyleSchmidlin | 5/5 |

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