CK Retro Review: Animals by Pink FloydPosted: January 9, 2014
It was a case of another year, another concept album for Pink Floyd. But while Dark Side Of The Moon and Shine On You Crazy Diamond were unmitigated triumphs, 1977’s Animals betrayed the fact that some of the songs, which weren’t quite up to the level of the previous albums anyway, were shoehorned into the concept after having been written a few years previous. As a result, instead of feeling like it was meticulously assembled by tweezers, the album feels more like it was smashed into place by a blunt hammer. That force is appealing at times, but there is a reason why Animals doesn’t quite share the lofty reputation of its predecessors.
4. “Sheep”- If there’s an overriding problem with Animals, it’s that the main concept is a relatively well-trodden one. No matter how well Roger Waters articulates it, and he does it very well in spots in this song, it all feels like a little bit of a retread. That means that the music has to do the heavy lifting, and on “Sheep”, that music doesn’t really get in gear until the soaring final section, when the oppressed bovine take their revenge. Up ’til then, it’s plodding and melody-free, and the vocoder part is frustrating in that you can’t really discern the words anyway.
3. “Dogs”- I prefer the bluesier middle section to the airy acoustic parts, which don’t really seem to have much of a connection to Waters’ pitch-black dissertation on business ethics and the silent toll taken on those who eschew them. David Gilmour’s melodies aren’t as strong as they could be, perhaps due to the burden of having to squeeze in the verbiage. Still, there are some moments of grandeur on the electric guitar, and the final bit of lyrics has the same kind of repetitive sweep managed on “Eclipse,” especially with Waters conveying the mixed emotions a bit better here with his vocals than his bandmate.
2. “Pigs On The Wing”- Waters used this little love-conquers-all, acoustic ditty to bookend the album as a way of humanizing all the heavy-handed metaphors that dot the album. It’s sweet and reminiscent of some of the band’s folkier, pre-Dark Side days. It’s a technique he would revisit again on The Wall.
1. “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”- Tough and funky all at once, this powerhouse track was written solely by Waters but really couldn’t have been realized without Gimour’s instrumental virtuosity. He takes over the bass duties here and gives the song an elastic bottom end, then comes out of nowhere with a Talk Box solo in the middle part that’s just the right amount of over-the-top. In the meantime, Waters is at his antagonistic best in the lyrics, taking on the powers that be and letting them know they’re not fooling anyone (“ha, ha, charade you are.”) But all of his jibes can’t prevent the damage that his targets can d0: “You’re nearly a laugh/But you’re really a cry.” And nobody tears up the finish of a song quite like Gilmour, as he proves here with a searing solo.
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