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The Residents - Animal Lover CD (album) cover


The Residents



3.80 | 33 ratings

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4 stars At this point, The Residents have moved past their MIDI stage. There are still a lot of synths being used, but now they have brought back in guitar parts, albeit processed. But they have ventured into other sounds as well. The music is sounding much better and there is a lot more depth now, and a lot more experimentation. They also have been using other vocalists now, especially Molly Harvey, who is often used as characterization for female characters in the songs. They have also matured somewhat into more intelligent concepts, though they still deal with the very dark side of the human condition.

This time around, the album looks at the relationship between humans and animals. The booklet that comes with this album is a very important part of the entire experience, in that each song has an introduction as narrated by an animal, or the way an animal would try to explain each situation. The songs themselves are usually sung from the viewpoint of the human though. As usual, with the Residents, you get into some very dark and disgusting human habits, and, also as usual, this album is not for the faint of heart, stomach, or ear. But, it's interesting to see these bizarre human actions through the eyes of an animal, or at least, the way The Residents think an animal would think.

Even though that is the concept, not all songs follow that pattern. 'Two Lips' for example is about the Tulip Mania financial crisis in the Netherlands in 1637. The songs are more progressive here now, as if The Residents have finally found a genre that explains their music, this is no doubt Avant-Garde Prog, and they embrace it completely now. The music is strange, and as was the case with 'Wormwood', one of their best later albums, very dark, dramatic and almost performed as a short stage musical. This is more the feeling of their concerts as they are truly stage shows.

There are a lot more female led vocals on this album, thank goodness. That means you don't have to hear the designated Resident sing. But when he does, it's usually very processed, so it adds to the characterization of the song. There are also choirs, or at least group singing and even children's choirs as in 'What Have My Chickens Done Now?' There are also some instrumentals that separate the sections of the album. The song 'Inner Space' is actually a song that can generate emotions in the listener, as it is a very beautifully sung with emotional lyrics. A huge surprise from the Residents. 'Elmer's Song' is almost spiritual sounding with a plucked string instrument.

No doubt that this is one of the best Residents albums. It is good to hear them take the actual composition of their music seriously, even though the lyrics can be quite demented at times. But at least, the music matches the feeling of the songs more than previously. However, be warned, that this is a very morose album, depressing, scary and dark. It still is not music for everyone, but it might be a good point for the curious to enter into their huge, but demented discography.

The use of more instruments, the orchestration, the addition of other vocalists and choirs add to the variety. Even though this is worlds better than the late 80s and early 90s output, it's still hard to give it 5 stars. It's not always the easiest stuff to listen to, not from complexity, but from subject matter. And doggone it, I wish there could be something a little more upbeat added in there. This probably would have gotten 5 stars if it wasn't so depressing. I am excited to hear some actual emotion put into their lyrics, singing and orchestration. That is a huge plus. Residents fans should love this album, new fans could also be generated from this album, but only those that can keep an open mind. The Residents music is usually a study of the depravity of human beings and that can be really hard to listen to for a long length of time, it does tend to wear on a person after awhile.

TCat | 4/5 |


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