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Pink Floyd - Animals CD (album) cover

ANIMALS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.52 | 2623 ratings

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Einsetumadur
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 15+/15P.: an essential listen and, to me, the greatest record ever made. Period.

For the first time in my reviewer's life I am unable to discuss an album as soundly and detailedly as I want to do because the extraordinary emotions and the ocean of impressions which these sounds achieve can never be put in words. The whole is, needless to say, always greater than the sum of its parts, but in this case every attempt to analyze this record (I've tried several times) is guaranteed to be a failure.

I have been listening to music actively since I was about 10 years old, that means for about six or seven years, and up to this year my musical taste changed and developed quite heavily. Art rock blows me away, jazz and classical music are really fine, too, and this year I found out that the popular modern electronic music (Paul Kalkbrenner, Deadmau5, Meck ft. Dino etc.) is a superb continuation of the psychedelic music which I appreciate very much.

But Animals has actually always been my favorite record ever, not only compared to the other Pink Floyd albums but also to the works of all the other bands that I've had the chance to listen to in the last years. It feels as if this record had been done just for me because every note and every sound fits so perfectly well - although it's, of course, more realistic to presume that this record shaped my taste, thus giving me this '100% affinity' feeling.

Similar to Wish You Were Here, on this album the band managed to sum up everything which defines their music: the intense guitar solos, the wonderfully lush keyboard pads (Hammond organ, Solina string machine, Moog synthesizer drones etc.), the meaningful and sometimes sarcastic lyrics and the elaborate production. But what makes this sound even greater is a turn in the band's direction, the inevitable turn towards (relative) simplicity after a period of elaborate experimentalism and/or bombast. There's no orchestra, no saxophone, no female backing vocals, no guest musicians, but just a band which wants to make rock music: rock music which shoots directly in your face (and in your brain), raw power, but at neither place bland or overlong. This does not mean that Pink Floyd move back to the 1960s when they covered "I'm A King Bee" or something like that, but rather that there are, for instance, crystal-clear passages in Dogs without any pads or drones, just with bass guitar, drums, staccato electric piano and guitar improvisations. Pigs is unexpectedly funky (dig that cowbell, man!) whilst the ending of the manic Sheep is plain rock'n'roll transferred to the 1970s. But there is always the detail which decides the pieces, the effect or the sound placed at some place of a song, a simple stereo panning effect, and it all makes every second of this record that fulfilling and uplifting.

Like all the other Pink Floyd albums from 1969 to 1982 it's Roger Waters' split personality which shapes the lyrical component of the music: the man fighting for human rights, for peace and against fascism, but also the man who realises how hard these aims are to achieve, and who sometimes fails to live up to his own expectations: the dichotomy between hope and despair, between wishful and pessimistic thoughts. Anyone who has distinct moral values and who tries to change the system he is in, be it in politics, in public authority or in religious functions, reaches several limits. The limits of the own strength, the limits set by egoistic depots, the limits of systems which, as some would argue, are more fascist than most people guess them to be. Roger Waters knows these limits. And the music which is created by the four band members to equal extents sets this dichotomy between will and power, this abstract and theoretical status, into music and thus into feeling, into something which you can listen to and which you can feel. This is a short, and surely much too rational and formulaic approach to explain the 'magic' which certain people feel when listening to this music, and it also proves that analysis will never be able to fully capture art.

The wishfulness... as I've already stated this mood appears everywhere in the band's work, and it is also evoked here: classic moments are the double-tracked guitar parts and the 5 minutes long hypnotic synthesizer break in Dogs and the two-part frame Pigs On The Wing, proof that Roger Waters is perfectly able to get maximum effect and emotion out of four or five related chords, strummed on the acoustic guitar. Sheep is perhaps the most psychedelic piece on the album, being a more concise version of the band's late-60s one-chord improvisations with a fantastic Fender rhodes introduction and a biting adaptation of the biblic "My Lord is my Shepherd" psalm, spoken through a vocoder with slightly altered words to the steady thunder of Moog synthesizers and bass guitars. (Sadly, Rick Wright abandoned his Clavinet-through-Leslie sound which he used in early live versions of the album tracks in 1974/1975, but this shall and can not be counted as a drawback.)

The big difference to The Wall is that although Roger Waters is the songwriter here, the whole band shapes and coins the music to equal extents. The Wall is a genuine masterpiece, too, but on Animals one instantly feels that these songs weren't recorded by an armada of studio musicians. Don't let yourself fool by 1977, the year when the record was first published: Animals is closer to Dark Side Of The Moon than to The Wall, it was recorded in 1976 and more than 50% of the musical substance were already played the same way in late 1974: Dogs and Sheep are in fact older than some of the Wish You Were Here songs.

So I recommend this album to every interested rock listener since it is a definitive musical statement, a wonderfully balanced record between psychedelia, progressive and blues rock consisting of four songs full of marvellous chords progressions and melodies. 15*/15 points for each and every of the 41 minutes - it's strikingly powerful music that somehow manages to transcend its quite simple structure, and it could be a chance for everyone to see and feel that life is also so much more than what we can analyze by means of science, and so much more than the greed, egoism and opportunism in our world that Roger Waters contempts in the album's lyrics. At least I am given strength by this album every time I listen to it. A masterpiece beyond comparison!

Einsetumadur | 5/5 |

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