Enter the name for this tabbed section: ANIMAL LOVER
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First Release
CD - 2005 - Mute - STUMM 247 - UK
Tell Me I’m Your Honey Bear (Animal Lover)
April 5, 2005
Animal Lover is not the successor to Brumalia that I had imagined, or indeed can imagine, even with the evidence right in front of me.  It feels like The Residents have taken a step back a few years, taken a different turn, and continued down a new path.  Perhaps Brumalia was an offshoot or considered a failure (or considered so successful that they are already finished with that direction).   This is what I respect most about The Residents: their willingness to try something new, and if they exhaust that possibility or it doesn’t work out, they regroup and carry on with something else.  The indomitability of the human spirit is always refreshing to see.
The album recalls a previous work, Eskimo, in that it is accompanied with short stories for each song which expand upon what we are hearing.  The difference here is that Eskimo was an instrumental album, so the stories provided context.  With Animal Lover, the stories present a different perspective, giving fullness to the narratives.
Most of the songs are written in first person point of view, while the stories are written in limited third person, revealing the inner thoughts of an animal.  Combined they provide a novel take on their subject matter, with the animals unknowingly offering poignant commentary on the human condition.  One song, “Inner Space,” is about a woman visiting her father as he lies on his deathbed.  The accompanying story is of a mouse who is excited to see the woman because she often drops bits of food on the floor.  We’re reminded that, while the death of a loved one is profoundly sad, there is a lot to be said for celebrating life and the many moments of joy it can provide.
There is a lot going on with this album.  The interaction between song lyric and story has been drawing most of my attention, so much so that when I stop to focus on the music I am especially impressed.  A press release claims the rhythm tracks are based on the mating sounds of cicadas and frogs; I don’t know whether or not that is true, but there is a lot to unpack here.  I normally describe Residents music as “complex minimalism,” meaning that it is composed of very simple elements that are then layered atop one another, forming a new type of cacophony: one from which you can clearly discern the individual parts.  But
Animal Lover, at times, is more advanced.  I can’t precisely place my finger on it, but there’s definitely a maturity that is on display more prominently than it has been in the past.
One improvement I can recognize is their use of voices, which is the strongest of their career.  The Residents have employed many different singers in the past decade, but while they were all meant to be part of an amorphous collective, the result has always felt like “The Residents with special guests,” rather than an ever-expanding lineup of a singular musical entity.
Animal Lover they have as many guest vocalists as ever, but for the first time it feels like one cohesive unit.  Oddly, it puts me in mind of “Old Brown Shoe” by The Beatles.  There’s a moment at the end when the entire group sings a line, and either through accidental distortion or purposeful production work, it sounds completely different from any other Beatles song.  In fact, it is my favorite song of theirs because of that strange moment when you wonder if another band has entered the studio.
The Residents of course have not been replaced by another band.  They’ve just finally gotten comfortable and come into their own, as far as what constitutes the group at this time.  That definition has changed before, and it will change again.  They are always either moving toward or away from another incarnation, but for a few moments they are that incarnation totally, completely, and without reservation.
Animal Lover is one of those rare moments of perfect alignment.

This is a post from Gio's blog.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: credits - tracks
M. Harvey, C. Fabrizio, and N. Cook

Thank you: W Cook, A Prabhakar, K Welter, M Salvatore, P Miller, Willy the Mailman, E Feldman, Joujou, K Ink,

guest musicians:
G. Kelly
C. Grady
A. Reynolds
K. McQuesten
J. Tait
C. Vazquez
E. Oberthaler
R. Bhakti Klein
I. Barbier
• On The Way (to Oklahoma)
• Olive and Gray
• What Have My Chickens Done Now?
• Two Lips
• Mr. Bee's Bumble
• Inner Space
• Dead Men
• My Window
• Ingrid's Oily Tongue
• Mother No More
• Dreaming of an Anthill (Teeming)
• Elmer's Song
• The Monkey Man
• The Whispering Boys
• Burn My Bones

Enter the name for this tabbed section: additional notes
Includes bonus disc:

"I stood at my window
Staring at an arcing streetlight.
A sudden wind made me pull my shoulders to my ears.
I pissed into the dark.
My swollen lip throbbed.
I could still taste the blood.
My eyes rolled back looking for memories.
I stopped.
I was changing details in my mind,
remembering only what I wanted it to be, not what it was.
I had only a short time to do what had to be done.
After that it would all be forever absorbed
by my imaginary Jack."

aka Imaginary Jack

There is no information about the recording in the CD booklet.

Animal Lover was being developed in 2001 as the follow-up album to Wormwood (1998).  The Residents had also gotten interested in the new world of DVD and were spending time fashioning Icky Flix as a compilation of their video work.  So the work on Animal Lover was going slowly.  Even as The Residents turned the DVD release into a tour (2001), there seemed to be growing questions as to what was going to happen to Animal Lover.  For one thing, the material was being written and arranged over and over by different members with different approaches.  There seemed to be a lack of clarity as to what the album should sound like. 
While The Residents were in Europe touring Icky Flix, the World Trade Center bombings occurred.  Though flights were impossible, the group found themselves shaken and wanted to go home.
They stayed in Europe two more weeks and, during that time, developed a new series of songs that became the album Demons Dance Alone (2002).
Whereas Animal Lover still had many questions about what unified it, Demons Dance Alone was immediately addressable.  The first thing needing to be done was to document the Animal Lover work so that it could be put into storage and picked back up later if they wanted to continue to work on it.
The existing state of Animal Lover was documented, and tests and experimentations were burned to CDROM.  One of the discs that was made was an instrumental version showing off beautiful, lush arrangements.  This was released in 2008 as Animal Lover Instrumental.  Other backup recordings were also done.  The group then launched into the recording of Demons Dance Alone and followed that with a tour.
After the Demons Dance Alone tour ended in 2003, The Residents were uncertain what to tackle next.  The path of least resistance was to pull out the old Animal Lover recordings from earlier, but doing something new had a lot of appeal, especially since Animal Lover was not going together easily.
A listening of the AL material encouraged them to continue with that direction.  One solution in reconciling the different arrangements was to cut them together like one might cut film to show the music from different sides.  The Residents were still resonating from the bombings and the growing war.  The world was not a happy place during Animal Lover work, but The Residents had the unifying mood they thought gave the album unity.
Animal Lover was finally finished in the summer of 2005 and released by Mute the following fall.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: lyrics

On the Way to Oklahoma
On the way to Oklahoma, I turned into a cat
My true love was a Tiger, I'm sure you can see that
I called the tiger Dolly, it was my mother's name
On the way to Oklahoma you finally became sane

On the way to Oklahoma, a voice inside my mind
Demanding that my senses expanded space and time
The voice revealed a feeling of heated ecstasy
On the way to Oklahoma, I peed upon a tree

On the way to Oklahoma, I needed to eat meat
So I attacked a dog who was sleeping in the heat
While eating in the sunshine a pleasant thing occurred
On the way to Oklahoma I licked myself and purred


On the way to Oklahoma, his split became complete
Reality had faded, his fantasy complete
The world he had constructed, from felines and despair
On the way to Oklahoma, became as clear as air

Olive and Gray
He wasn't dreaming,
When he started screaming
“He touched my penis,
And it went away”

Removing his pants, he
Held in his hand, the
Shriveled up gland, he
Said was a fake

“He silently traded
Mine for this hated
Lump that is shaded
Olive and gray”

Pointing his finger
Right at the stranger
He said that the danger
Will escalate

Unless we kill it
Torture and spill its
Blood without guilt, it
Won't go away

The stranger was shocked when
Rocks began flocking
Around him knocking
His senses away

Like a mad hound he
Was pounded and pounded
'Til he was dead

What Have My Chickens Done Now?
Old Woman:
What have my chickens done now

Young Girl:
She took a mouse out of a pouch
And made me put it in my mouth

5 Sisters:
We call out her name
And beg for a shaming

Young Girl:
She made me spit and shake and scream
She made me make myself unclean

Old Woman:
She calls out my name
But I'm not to blame, but
Maybe my chickens know how

Old Woman:
I don't know why she told on me
I'm sick and sad and eighty three

Young Girl
I knew when I named her
The devil had claimed her

Old Woman:
It must be my chickens somehow
They accused my daughter and
Scratched her on the face and hand
They bite their toungues and bear their teeth
Then they scratch me til I bleed

5 Sisters:
As long as she remains
We will keep her in pain

I know her chickens are foul

Old Woman:
I know I'm not to blame
But I'm tired of the bloodstains
I have to find a way out
Under stress I did confess
Just to make them stop, I guess
What can my chickens do now?

5 Sisters:
We knew if named her
God would not claim her

Old Woman:
My pain was in vain
For they were all against me

5 Sisters:
Around her neck they tied a noose
And they killed her family, too

Young Girl:
Only her chickens know now

Two Lips
Oh, we have to buy a tulip
Yes, we have to buy a tulip
Oh, we have to buy a tulip
So we'll sell our home
We will sell our clothes
And we'll sell our shoes
Everything we own
We'll sell to you

My doctor bought a tulip
And my banker bought a tulip
And my lawyer bought a tulip
So I'll buy one, too
Maybe I'll buy ten
Maybe I'll buy more
All my friends scored
Tulips galore



Would you like to buy a tulip?
Would you like to buy a tulip?
Would you like to buy a tulip?
You can pick and choose
I have sold my wife
And my children, too
I have nothing but tulips to lose


Mr. Bee's Bumble

Inner Space
When I think about my father
I see a silver ship
Sailing on the oceans of nirvana
When I think about my father
On his sad and lonely trip
I wonder if he misses me and mama

When I think about my father
I see someone who's sick
Of breathing life into a lost persona

When I went to see my father
I was his only friend
No one knew he was a lonely soldier
When I went to see my father
He was bitter at the end
When the wind was a blowing so much bolder
I went to see my father
Who was dying to pretend
The emptiness of like would soon be full of him

I went to see my father growing colder

Dead Men
Dead men are staring up at angels
Dead men are staring at the ground
Dead men have little inspiration
Dead men just like to lie around
Dead men were reaching out to glory
But nothingness is all they found

Heroes always go to heaven
Heroes never die in vain
Heroes always speak the truth and
Heroes never explain

Dead men are only in the way
Dead men are only in the way
Dead men are only in the way
Dead men are only in the way

My Window
Steven said little Ted was dead
I read in a letter today
The same for Monica's monkey he said
Quietly it passed away

Mister Coo Coo has fallen asleep
His eyes were black and his beak was brown
Mister Coo Coo has fallen asleep
But soon his home will be underground

The wind was cold and the world was old
When I went to my window today
The sky was dark as a hopeless heart
When I went to my window today

Ingrid's Oily Tongue

Mother No More
I will never hear you in the morning, no
I will never hear your voice again
You will never say that you love the little cakes
That I bake so early in the morning, no
I will never hear it again

She'll never hear him in the evening, no,
She will never hear his voice again
He will never say “It's my favorite time of day,”
When the sun is setting in the evening, no,
She will never hear it again

But I know I'll hear you when it's late at night
And you're sleeping in your room again
You will dream of the faraway wickedness of war
And I'll hear you sobbing after midnight, no,
You will not say “mother” again

No, you won't say “mother” again

Dreaming of an Anthill (Teeming)

Elmer's Song
Leave your burdens behind
Leave your burdens behind
Let your spirit be
Free from gravity
Leave your burdens behind

God is waiting for you
God is waiting for you
There's no need to be
In uncertainty
God is waiting for you

Once I was exactly like you
An empty vessel on full view
I thought that there was no other way
I thought the thoughts you think today

My wife was sinister and unclean
My children were morose and mean
My discontentment was so complete
My mind retreated into sleep

Love will live in repose
Love will live in repose
Let your leisure zone
Be your cornerstone
Love will live in repose

But soon a voice inside of a dream
Said “Son you can become My Cream,”
With words that echoed in me God said
“White people should remain in bed.”

Take a load off your feet
Take a load off your feet
Turn your misery
Into ecstasy
Take a load off your feet

We will give it to you
We will give it to you
Sleep is purified
Sweet and sanctified
So we'll give it to you

The Monkey Man
I see him when I'm dreaming
His teeth are white and bare
He's riding on a stallion
The wind is in his hair
If he were made of china
He's have a special stand
Beside my china ponies
I love the monkey man

I wake up every morning
And smell his golden hair
He stands outside my window
And watches me with care
He smiles at all my ponies
And dances when he can
I'll look for him tomorrow
I love the monkey man

Monkey Man
Monkey Man
Monkey Man
Monkey Man

The Whispering Boys
The Whispering boys will not go away
The Whispering boys have nothing to say
But they scream and they cry
And they run and they hide
From their bodies

The Whispering Boys have answered the call
The Whispering Boys surrender their all
To the blame and the blood
Of an albino dove
Made of love

The Whispering Boys are perfect and pure
The Whispering Boys are sacred and sure
And sometimes they are known
To take children whose homes
Are unknown

The Whispering Boys, they stay out of sight
The Whispering Boys, they meet late at night
But they bond to their fate
And they're saved when they
Self mutilate

Burn My Bones
Sleeping deeply in the blood
It turns my memories to mud
And gnaws inside me like a dog
Whose leg is caught beneath a log
It eats itself until it's free
But I'll eat them instead of me


And leave the ashes in the snow
Enter the name for this tabbed section: stories


The tiger noticed the man. Usually, she paid little attention to the humans outside her cage, but this man was different.

For the others, the tiger was only one stop in an idle, meandering tour - a minor distraction in the lives of bored humans, staring at bored animals. But the man did more than look. He did more than stare. He burned. It was as if the tiger was the only other being inhabiting his world, and the secret sum of his being was solely reserved for her. How could she not notice.

He was there every day, immediately after the zoo opened. Always in the same spot, leaning against the outer fence, peering intently between the bars. But omnipresence has weird way of becoming wallpaper, and soon his sight faded into the fringes of the cat’s consciousness. Maybe the man sensed that he was losing her attention, or maybe the rhythm of his unseen passion reached a new plateau, or maybe he just snapped, but one night everything changed.

The zoo had closed several hours earlier and the tiger was sleeping when she heard an odd noise - a scratching, scrambling sound, accompanied by grunts and groans. Curious, she rose from her bedding and gravitated towards the noise, somewhere near the front of the cage. Immediately she recognized the man, and immediately she knew something was wrong. He had climbed the outer fence, he had blood on his hands and mouth, and he was bringing something to her.

The man’s brazen entrance unnerved the big cat and, awkwardly, she backed into a corner, intently watching his approach. Smiling strangely, the human reached out and pushed something towards her. Something that looked like a stringy, dirty and fur covered piece of meat - and smelled like a dog. Suddenly, the lights came on and several more men appeared, screaming and shouting at the shocked dog meat man. Surprised, he dropped his present and tried to run, but he was caught and quickly taken away. He never returned.

No human had ever offered dog meat to the tiger before. In a funny way she missed him.


It was a hot day - like the day before and the day before that, as far back as the dog could remember. But, if the pounding oppression of dog days was not enough, the milk of human kindness always seemed to sour with the rising heat. Early in the morning the dog could usually beg a few scraps of food, and always in the evening, when the cool breeze had taken the edge away from the afternoon’s long and relentless roast. But during the middle of the day, he knew his place. The kicking feet, screaming voices and rocks thrown in his direction had delivered their message too many times. The cur was a street dog, and street dogs always avoid shuffling feet and rising tempers when the sun turns asphalt into black butter.

But today was different. Despite a feeling that the crowd was even more aggressive and restless than usual, the dog was still attracted to its odd and manic energy. The street was alive with tension ...tension he should be avoiding, but still, it grabbed and pulled him, compelling the dog right to the edge of a nasty and jeering mob. Two men were in the center: one cowering into a corner and the other angrily pointing at him. Curiously enough, the angry man would point, then grab his crotch, then point again, shouting louder and louder each time. Growing increasingly hostile, he suddenly threw a rock at the fallen man, then another and another.

Quickly the fever of destruction infected the entire crowd and the air exploded into stones, relentlessly pounding one particular spot into a pupal and no longer protesting pulp. When the first rock arrived, the man had screamed and, empathetically, the dog howled along with him. But now, as the scene suddenly became still, and the crowd nervously looked around, the little mutt decided it was time to find a hole, and crawl in.

At least this time it wasn’t him.


Chickens don’t like children. After all, who likes to be chased by creatures ten times larger than themselves ...and children do love to chase chickens. Not only was the neighbor’s child no exception, the little girl’s relentless pursuit of poultry often bordered on diabolical. Simply the sight of her approaching the small barnyard easily agitated the flock for hours. They hated her.

At first, the feeder, an old woman, sent the little girl home, seemingly returning peace to the barnyard. But the child was relentless, and soon turned her attention to the old woman. With a feeling of disbelief, the chickens watched as the little girl threw herself into the middle of the flock, and fell to the ground, kicking, screaming, and convulsing until she passed out. Shocked, the old woman stared in amazement, then quickly called the young girl’s parents. Awakening upon their arrival, the child sat straight up, pointed at the old woman and screamed.

The following day the unsuspecting flock found itself again invaded by the neighboring child, this time accompanied by her four older sisters. Surrounded by the dumbfounded woman and her equally confused chickens, the barnyard teemed with the sight of rolling bodies, thrashing arms and twitching legs, as the five girls proceeded to reenact the previous day’s scene. And again, upon returning to consciousness, the sisters all pointed at the astonished old woman.

Soon more humans arrived, but, to the flock’s great relief, the crowd directed the full brunt of its attention toward the pathetic and befuddled old woman. Accusation mounted upon accusation, building tension until, in a sudden move, the smallest child reached over and scratched the old woman. With blood dripping down her arm and shouts ringing in her ears, the crone could think of nothing to do but nod her head, and hope they would all go away. And they did, taking the old woman with them and leaving the hungry chickens with nothing to eat.

They know it’s the little girl’s fault. They’re vicious chickens and they’re out to get her.


The ant liked the man. He was a hard worker and ants appreciate hard work. When the human first arrived, the anthill was at the edge of a small forest, but soon the trees were removed and shortly afterwards the man built and occupied a large and stately home, not far from his unknown neighbors, the ants. And, with the building of a stable, a guest house and servants’ quarters, his industry continued. Occasionally the ant paused to watch as the man, arrogant and successful, entertained guests on the sunlit expanse of his grass covered lawn, proudly displaying his children and attractive young wife. But beyond the lawn and its surrounding flower beds, the ant knew nothing of the human’s existence. The small creature had no idea what went on inside the big house, or how the man earned his income, or what he ate for dinner, but the tiny animal easily recognized the acrid odor of change, and the odor was in the air.

The man’s children, who often spent entire days running and playing on the lush and exquisite lawn, had disappeared. His wife, who quietly stood at the side of her rich and successful husband, entertaining his prosperous friends, had also vanished. As had the servants, the horses, the dogs, cats and everyone who had occupied the small estate - except the man. And lately he always seemed to be outside, staring at his flowers. His tulips. The pride of his life and the envy of his peers. But lately there weren’t any parties. And no friends. Just tulips.

The ant didn’t understand flowers. They were all right to look at, but were obviously worthless in terms of food or shelter. And the man no longer seemed to care about anything else.

“Oh well, it’s time to go back to work,” thought the ant.


The mouse was excited. It was almost time for the young woman to visit her again. The little animal wondered what kind of treat she would get today. Most humans think mice like cheese, but the young woman knew better. Yesterday she brought a tasty tidbit of bacon! Yummy! What a nice human.

But the little mouse was also confused. She really didn’t understand why the young woman came to this place every day just to visit her. And why was she so nice when all the other humans screamed and threw things at the tiny animal, quickly darting around the dark corners of the large room. The building was full of beds, with lots of places to hide, but the mouse had to be careful. For some reason, humans didn’t seem to like mice, and that was hard to understand, too. Except for the young woman.

Every day she came and sat in same place. Sometimes she held the hand of the man lying on the bed beside her, but they never spoke or smiled or even looked at each other. Soon she would put his hand down, pick up her purse and pull out a treat.

It was so exciting.


The stark white owl was a striking figure, silently floating through the midnight air. The day had seen a vicious battle surging across the flat plain, but now it was night and the battle was over - only the dead remained. The men had entered the battle carrying food and supplies, but now everything - bodies, food packets and weapons - were randomly scattered, like fallen leaves, deliberately disrupting the order of open space ...but also attracting mice. The owl had no use for the inedible chunks of refuse the humans referred to as food, but the mice loved it. And the owl loved mice.

Occasionally, the wise owl noted to herself, random forces aligned in unpredictable ways, creating equally unexpected beauty and perfection as a byproduct of their seemingly chaotic intersection. Unfortunately this was not one of those times. Whenever she spotted a mouse and swooped down for the kill, the small rodent escaped, quickly hiding itself beneath a human’s fallen body.

Dead men are only in the way.


The pigeon was nervous. Some would say nervousness is the primary currency of a pigeon’s internal existence, but even so, the bird was more than normally twitchy ...perhaps even extraordinarily twitchy.

It had everything to do with the human. The man was also nervous and this was not his normal state. Here he comes again. He’s coming, he’s coming ...no he walked on past. He was pacing, grumbling, sighing, staring at the sky ...and looking at the pigeon ...a lot.

Then there were the other pigeons. All of his friends and family. And one by one, they disappeared. He was coming again ...two steps ...three steps ...FOUR! ...no he’s just getting his cup of tea. It wasn’t the first time his friends had left. The human often took his favorite birds away for races or breeding. It had happened to the pigeon many times in the past, but the human never took them all, and they always returned.

And what about the dog ...and the evil cat. They were gone, too. Even the two lovebirds, no longer twittering in their cage by the window. The pigeon was the only one left ...him and the man. This was not good ...not good at all.

It all started when the mailman brought that letter ...and the human turned on his radio ...and made some phone calls. Here he comes again ...but this time he is getting closer ...this time he’s holding out his hands ...this time ...this time he’s...


LIFE SUCKS! thought the cat, waking up from nap number nine. The proud feline casually strolled over to her food bowl, nibbled a bit and contemplated her dilemma.

True, the boy was back. The boy who always fed her. The boy who gave her treats. The boy who once stuffed catnip into a sock and drug it around the house, playing with her for hours. But best of all, he was THE HANDS. Perfect hands, hands that knew every special spot - on her tummy, under her chin, behind her ears.

The cat was sad for weeks after he went away. Oh, the old woman was all right, an adequate feeder to be sure, but hers were the hands of a bricklayer - hard and boney with sharp fingernails. To her credit, the old woman tried, but the cat would rather be petted by a porcupine. No one was THE BOY.

And now he’s not the boy any more either. A little bigger, perhaps, but that’s not it - it’s the frozen face, the empty eyes, the silent voice. He never speaks a word. Never. No more kitty, kitty, kitty. And since he no longer actually feeds the cat, maybe that doesn’t matter ...but then ...but then ...his hands. All he does is sit around, for hours in the same spot, staring at his hands ...lingering over the remnants of glory ...treasure turned into trash. Hrumph, snorted the cat, laying down for nap number ten.

The old woman was sad when he left, now she’s sad that he’s back. But the cat knows it’s time to move on. Cats have important things to do.


The chimp missed her mother. She was just a baby when the big white man took her away, and the memory of her mom and her mother’s sweet embrace still touched the chimp every day. Over time the soul of the small, timid animal had tried to repair itself, but the hole was still there - black and deep. A hole that the big white man tried to fill, but no human was that big.

She was special. She knew that. No other chimpanzees rode in the back seat of large, expensive automobiles. No other chimps slept under silk sheets, or had bananas and hot chocolate served to them in bed every morning. She was indeed special. But not special enough to fill the hole.

The chimp went everywhere with the the big, white human in his big white car. Except for the chimp, it seemed like everything in the human’s world was very large and very white. Especially the big white building. They went there almost every day, and once a week, the building was filled with white humans, all lying on beds and all listening to the big white man. He obviously had important things to say.

But the odd thing about the human was that, except for the little chimp and his servants, the man lived alone. Just like her. Late at night, when they were by themselves, he often seemed a little sad and said, “Betty, love is a musical box of rocks, and I’m tone deaf.”

The chimp had no idea what the big white man meant, but she understood the meaning of his sighs.


The monkey man is never there. The monkey man is everywhere. But usually the monkey man is right outside the old woman’s window. He shelters her. He protects her. He gives her something to believe in.

Other people say bad things about the monkey man. They say he killed a woman two days ago. Last week, they say, a man fell from his roof trying to escape from the monkey man. Large groups of people carrying torches roam the streets at night, searching for the monkey man.

And maybe it’s all true, but the monkey man holds a special place in the old woman’s heart, and he has one for her. She senses his essence and senses his center - soft, sweet, and silent. Like any wise being, the monkey man knows the hollow nothingness of words, seeing them for what they are - a pathetic and feeble attempt to label life, a farce for fools afraid of living. So he speaks with his eyes. Knowing eyes, giving eyes, all seeing and often sad eyes.

Living alone is a lonely life, unless you have a monkey man.


Like all the others of his species, the bat was a creature of the night. The evening air was calm and peaceful, with the remnants of human life existing mainly as a dim series of flickers, softly glowing through the windows of their homes. But the humans themselves were seldom seen, and the ones who were outside at night, late at night, usually built fires in the forests where the bats silently darted between the dark trees. And the fires attracted insects. And the insects brought the bat.

The small flying mammal found one group of humans to be especially fascinating. They were always out late, always absorbed in a world of unknown behavior and always lit by the largest flames. The men used the fire to heat metal, metal that, once it began to glow, became the means of marking their flesh, of becoming special - something apart from the other humans. The bat could easily sense the pain rising out of the sound and smell of hot metal sinking into skin, but he could sense something else, too. Something deeper and stronger. In an odd way, the little animal was envious - if only he could experience such exquisite sensation.

The bat had little use for humans. Their lives were mainly made of clutter and noise. But these humans were different. They were night people. His kind of humans.


The wolf was cold and hungry. He had followed the man for hours ...waiting, waiting, for just the right time. Waiting for a moment of weakness. Waiting for an opening. Not that the man presented much of a threat ...or much of a meal. But now something strange was happening. Standing still and staring up at the night sky, the man abruptly began to howl, in a most disturbing way. Maybe this was not a meal to consider.

The wolf had seen the man and smelled his scent around the forest for some time. He knew that the human lived with his two sisters in a small shelter not far away. He also knew that this winter was longer and colder than most, and food was nowhere to be found.

Turning his attention back to the man, the wolf noticed that howling seemed to swell in intensity. Gradually a feeling of discomfort crept up the animal’s legs, slithered across his back and slowly oozed into his chest. The feeling seized his throat and squeezed it tight. Feeling more and more uncomfortable, the animal told itself to run. Flee. Get away from the howling man. The man who now seemed to be glowing a white hot and impossibly bright light. The light of hunger mixed with fear, the light that illuminates the black pit of despair and makes anything possible. Makes anything desirable. Makes anything real.

Suddenly the man began to move. Quickly, silently, purposefully, towards the small shelter just over the hill. Transfixed, the wolf followed. And watched as the man quietly entered his home. Again the man howled, shaking the wolf’s soul as he heard a no longer human wail mixing and blending into the sound of several horrified screams.

No, thought the wolf, this was not a meal to consider.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: observations and opinions
Conjecture, Observations and Misinterpretations
of The Residents' Animal Lover


Not a review, this is simply a documentation of some of my observations of Animal Lover. Some of it is opinion, no more or less valid than your own, so feel free to disagree. A lot of it is also conjecture and supposition. Just buy the album and listen and love it.
Though there have been other releases in the meantime, Animal Lover is clearly the "real" follow-up to Demons Dance Alone. Since DDA, The Residents had released a couple other CDs; One was WB:RMX which I consider more of an audio project than "the next Residents album." There was also Brumalia, a collection of fun little pieces, somewhat akin to Residue but with a unifying theme, yet still not DDA's follow-up. (There was also King and Eye:RMX which I have never heard, it is not an album by The Residents.) In contrast, Animal Lover is a major piece, and in my humble opinion, will stand alongside G3P, 3rd R, MOTM and DDA as essential must-haves of The Residents canon. This album has many of the same themes as DDA, which I'll blab on about below. I also mention "throwback moments" where part of AL is audibly reminiscent of an earlier Rz piece but also maintains the same theme. Again, these might just be my imagination, disagree at will.
On The Way To Oklahoma starts out Animal Lover with vocals, interesting! I could be mistaken, but I believe this is the first time The Residents have started out something a capella since tracks from The Big Bubble. The music fades in behind the vocals and the journey begins. The vocoder-sounding voice doesn't exactly recall the voice of a cat, but it certainly gives it an inhuman quality. There's a time change in the middle of the song, leading me to believe that there's actually 2 separate recordings that were married together through a cross-fade, much the same way that the lead character melded his reality with his fantasy. The first half is told in the first person, the later part is in the third person. When the second part starts, there's a dramatic sweep from bouncy to creeping, again lending itself to the story, that the earlier part of the character's life was not as natural and organic than the desire-become-reality. The morphed result would seem bizarre to us, but natural to the one occupying that skin.
Olive and Gray again sounds to me like it was put together from 2 separate parts. Throwback moment: It opens with a bass line which definitely brings my mind back to Mark of the Mole (no particular track, just in general), a story that dealt with class oppression among other things. I get the distinct feeling that some of this is present in Olive and Gray as well. Maybe it's the Balinese instruments or scales present, or the corresponding story that includes a public stoning that gives me this impression, I'm not sure. I was initially taken aback by the Homeric chorus, it was a shock to hear so many unfamiliar voices on a Residents release, particularly since The Residents' vocals have been steadily familiar since 1997. The gating used on the early part of the vocal ensemble gives it an unearthly, nightmarish quality, creepy! I would have expected this sort of arrangement from a Young Gods Records act, or if This Mortal Coil did edgier material. Whatever the influence was (perhaps none at all), I love it. However, after having read the lyrics and the corresponding story, I still don't understand it. But for me, that's par for the course. I'm particularly fond of the relentless pinging of tiny cymbals that recall a demented merry-go-round (another possible throwback moment, a musical nod to High Horses? The absent-genitals story certainly does seem hallucinatory…), which provide rhythmic motion in the absence of more traditional choices, as there's not much in the way of "drums" in the conventional sense here. Another interesting tidbit that speaks directly to the otherwise unexplained "stones" in place of people's heads in the album's accompanying graphics is the line "rocks began flocking around him, knocking his senses away." Yes, the story includes a stoning, but how do rocks flock around something? I think that "rocks" here refers not to the stones they hurled at him but instead to the dense people that gathered around the stranger to kill him. Also of note, the narrating voices refer to "the stranger" as "he" but the accusing figure calls him "it" instead. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album.
What Have My Chickens Done Now? heavily incorporates autoharp into the song, another first for The Residents I think. The autoharp will show up again later in the album. My ears are wanting to hear Laurie Amat on the chorus of "sisters" (think G3P), but Isabella Barbier (I believe that's her) does exactly what the story needed her to do: Convey violent malevolence and indifference for human life from a sweet child's voice. The juxtaposition is beautiful and frightening, a genuinely jarring experience. As an interesting aside, I noted that there's a familiar sound in this track: There's a short, rising ring heard after the line "scratched her on her face and hands" that we've heard before, it accompanies the 2 Easter eggs on the Commercial DVD. Get it? Eggs? Chickens?
Two Lips again brings back the multi-voice chorus in an oddly upbeat song, given the topic. A man says "I have sold my wife and my children too, I have nothing but tulips (two lips) to lose" but the music is comparatively happy-sounding. At least, until the very end: "No! YES!!" Throwback moment which possibly adds to the contradiction element: Right before the heavily effected lead vocal starts, there's a 4-note progression just like the "in the future" hook from Santa Dog ("Fire"). Santa Dog, as is heavily documented elsewhere, is anagram of "Satan God," two more opposites presented together. This track seems to be ABOUT contradiction. Having "No!" and "YES!!" right next to each other is not an argument, but rather showing duality, that yes and no both apply correctly; The lush, full-sounding song against it's AM-radio sounding ending with all the low- and mid-end washed out of it; the busy instrumentation of the majority of the track against the emotionally-destroyed-Schroeder-smashing-his-fists-against-a-toy-piano outro; The foot-tapping beats and happy melodies conveying the story of a man who has thrown away everything he loved, and probably "has no presence in the future." And again showing contradiction, this tracks fades out with draining damage, against the following track:
Mr. Bee's Bumble is a snappy, bouncy instrumental that sounds a lot like many of the things we heard on Brumalia. This track would not have been out of place on that release, for sure. It starts out with an electronic-sounding voice giving a "one two three four" countdown, and I think this puts me off a little. It doesn't really seem to fit on Animal Lover which I take to be a more serious album than the Brumalia collection which was more lighthearted and even campy if you'll forgive the notion. But again, maybe it's supposed to be there to provide more foolheartiness against the end of Two Lips. The real question is, what exactly is this track doing on this album? Well, in a way, it's a wordless summation of the album. The track is bright and snappy and upbeat for a while, and then it ends with the sound of rain. Likewise, we're blissfully unaware of what's going on around us, and we go from place to place in our lives, until such time that we are interrupted by the circumstances we put ourselves in. We neglect the ones who love us the most. We experience the loss of a parent or child. Or, if you're a bumblebee, you go about your business from flower to flower until you get caught out in the rain. (Yes, I realize that I'm probably completely wrong, so what.)
Inner Space is a beautiful track that is similar in melody to much of what we've heard on DDA. It has an ambient, dreamy quality about it. Its' thematic similarity to DDA is also plainly evident. Here's the bitching part: It floats along flawlessly until the middle section, where Molly's voice seems to fall out of sync with the rhythmic pulsing of the bass. At first, it sounded to me like she either put down her vocal first and the other part was added afterwards, or that the bass part was dropped out of the mix while she was recording the vocal. It sounded like she couldn't have been listening to that rhythm part while singing or else they'd not have fallen out of time. But then upon repeated listenings, maybe Molly's vocal is in perfect time, and it's the bass that's actually off? I know that sounds improbable, but follow along with a metronome and give it a thought. Another beautiful song. Notable here is the maturation of Molly's vocal. It's heartfelt, not a character, but a soul grieving the loss of another soul. I think this is one of Molly's best moments with The Residents, ever. Really beautiful.
Dead Men starts out with some amazing-sounding gamelan instrumentation, the recording is really impeccably done, I'm thoroughly impressed. Occasionally operatic lilts in the vocals lift the sense of death to a heightened awareness for the listener, and the tick, tick, ticking of the clock reminds us that we're no longer spring chickens, ho ho! Additionally there's something "different" about this song that I'm finding difficult to accurately describe. I noticed that the writing style in the lyrics is really pretty different in comparison to most other Residents tunes, I'm wondering if maybe we're seeing lyrics from a Resident that hasn't had much exposure in that realm before?
My Window sounds to me like it would definitely have been equally at home in the "Loss" section of DDA. It even harkens the same sound through the hooter/harmonica instrument (I forget what it's called, the same instrument that most notably provided the melodies in the live versions of Honey Bear and My Brother Paul). This song is so pretty and so sad, it's really pretty hard to listen to sometimes, it feels like a raw nerve. This track is another clear example of something that was recorded in 2 separate parts and put together through a cross-fade. Another favorite, morose as it is.
Ingrid's Oily Tongue is a beautiful instrumental, I wish it was at least 3 minutes longer. Birds having oily tongues, perhaps Ingrid is the mate of the bird from My Window? This is pure conjecture of course.
Mother No More Speaking about the composition, I have no words for this track that would do it justice. It is heartbreakingly beautiful and tragic, like My Window. I do, however, have a few (useless) opinions about the recording. I feel that the guitar should have been re-done, or at least mixed out; I suspect that the guitar was recorded without the subject matter of the song being known, or else the note selection would have lent itself to a sadder theme. The lyrics are wrist-slashingly mournful, but the guitar seems almost silly and mocking in comparison. However, unlike Two Lips, I do not think that this incongruity was intentional.
Conversely, Dreaming Of An Anthill (Teeming) starts out with some slide guitar, and though I don't think this was necessarily the intent, it immediately made me think of Snakefinger. Given the overall tone of the album, and this being the follow-up to DDA which largely dealt with loss and regret, it wouldn't surprise me if ol' Snakey was a smidge of inspiration here. Although it starts out nice enough, I'm wondering what this track is doing in the middle of the album. Perhaps it's here because the next track starts out a capella?
Elmer's Song again starts a capella with the multi-voice chorus, and to great effect. The lead vocal seems to be done by "the singing Resident" but is processed in such a way that it is a non-human quality to it, like a spirit without a body. This notion is also propelled by the story, as a disembodied entity talks to us listeners from the beyond, giving us empathy for being bogged down with these awkward bodies and fleeting feelings we put so much weight behind, only to have them dissipate when we cast the body off. It speaks of sleep (death), and the music appropriately comes across like a lullaby.
The Monkey Man is a true standout track for me on this album, really great instrumentation. Molly delivers a remarkable presentation, I think this (along with Mother No More) is one of the best vocal performances in her history with The Residents, as she really does become the character she's portraying. There's an odd inflection about the pronunciation of words in this track, which made me reconsider her over-the-top accent on "Chickens" track; After a couple listenings, I'm pretty certain that her narrating character in Monkey Man is oriental! ("The Residents are practically Japanese, but no one knows," right?) For me, the music for this track is among the best on the album, and dare I say, of The Residents' career. Ok, that sounds like an exaggeration, but I really can't stop playing this song over and over. Molly puts in a great performance of a teetering, precarious character, but the vocal's level in the mix detracts from what's playing behind it. I occasionally find myself trying to ignore the vocal to hear what's happening behind it, which is not only difficult, but also feels slightly disrespectful to one of Molly's better contributions.
The Whispering Boys is probably the "easiest" listen of the album, almost radio-friendly. It is demented in it's ear-unanimity in contrast to it's subject matter (self-mutilation aside) like Two Lips. There's something about the vocals that I can't quite put my finger on, but a voice-combination in there reminds me of some other performer, I think. This is another track that I'd probably listen to more if the vocals were less prevalent. Not that they're a problem, I just really like the instrumentation.
Burn My Bones presents finality and the will to achieve it, a real manifestation of thanatos. The frantic hand-drums later in the track give a ritualistic, tribal feel to it, like a funeral pyre isn't out of the question. Burn My Bones indeed. Another throwback moment, the low rumbling vocal ("Anger… Hunger…") recalls the loop that began the 13th Anniversary version of Die In Terror. Coincidence? Possibly. But, do keep in mind that Die In Terror is about the exact same thing, the death-drive, the will to die. Besides third person versus first, "she said she wished to die in terror" is essentially no different than "please somebody burn my bones." Helping this throwback notion gel is another throwback, the surging keyboard part that made me think of Tension Of The String from SnakeyWake.
This album is a serious kick to the head, if not heart. DDA was an incredible work, and I really felt that there was no way that the Rz could hit that level of achievement again, especially on their very next album. I let my guard down. I suppose I should be glad that I did, because this album really is an unexpectedly incredible listen. This has easily made it's way into my top favorites, hands down. The Residents keep giving and giving and giving. Thank you, whoever you are. (I know, nobody.)
The 2nd disk "…imaginary Jack" would make me think of AL:RMX if there was such a thing, but it's more than just dancey versions of pieces of AL. My pal Nic probably described it more accurately when he called it "a Finest Flowers version of Animal Lover." Generally speaking, there's some lyrics in there not included in AL, some re-recorded stuff (i.e. the music to My Window at a comical [fast] speed) and bits of what may or may not have been sketches to what eventually became AL. It's not part 2 by any means, but certainly a bit of fun, especially after such a weighty experience as the album it accompanies.
While I'm on the Rz, here's another general observation: Are we now witnessing the amazing disappearing Residents? Of the 15 songs on Animal Lover, 3 are instrumental. Of the remaining 12, I only hear "the main Residents singer" on 6 of those songs. Of those six, at least 2 feature the voice going through a vocoder or some other similar-sounding filter. Another (Two Lips) has the voice going through more processing effects than I could bench press, rendering the voice nearly unrecognizable. In yet another (Burn My Bones), the voice is put through an octaver (or whatever they're calling it these days) to drop the voice to a lower register. Vocal manipulation has long been a part of The Residents' repertoire, but it's more than this which gives me the feeling that there's a significant change afoot. It seems to me that the Rz-singer is fading back from the spotlight, something that was also noticed in the DDA album and tour. We're hearing more entire songs without him, more entire songs with others on lead vocals, etc. Is someone preparing for a virtual replacement? Of course, my point is moot because there are no Residents. No one has left the building, because there was no one in it.
Probably 100% wrong about everything.

An Unsolicited Opinion
Imposing Mystics
by Jonas Golland

The 'Same Old' Residents, as they brand themselves on the inner cover of their latest enigmatic album, Animal Lover, come at us with new and old atmospheres. This brand may be necessary for them as they are known for recreating themselves. But more than ever, Animal Lover uses the strengths of their most recent albums such as Wormwood, Icky Flix, 12 Days of Brumalia, and continues a placid style developed in the 2002 album Demons Dance Alone. Over their 30 years The Residents, more a mystic movement than what we call a band, have taken advantage of dormant powers in music provoking character, but done far more than infuse differing styles and genres with theatrics and visual art. Their albums, videos, multimedia, soundtracks, singles and endless miscellany are of a fast-changing nature that comforts eccentricity in an all-inclusive manner. It’s plausible that their arts attempt to be in between all others because their axis of their albums, which admittedly are the bulk of their work, is usually concept, journey or story. Though admittedly and exaggeratedly zany, probably no other band works this hard at taking so many forms. That’s why they can’t compare with those that are strict of style, for they have a different role, with spades to show for it. They are a force less about having a backlog of secular successful works and more about variety in experience and broadness of range in creations.
This is clearly illustrated in their countless remaking of their own music including Icky Flix (2000), a collective of selected works over 30 years. Diskomo 2000 is some sort of version of widely recognized Eskimo (1979), which is rather some kind of parallel universe to Eskimo rather than a remix. They have remixed their very first demo album into something else altogether. Their latest release, The Way We Were is of a concert in Australia where they remade more old favorites never before remade. They have a wide variety of strangely conclusive offerings worth exploring, a band that is worth many second chances. But out of all this randomness, which was no doubt all fun to produce, Animal Lover (2005) is more a sum of it all than any other, even than Icky Flix (2000). Their style was a jump from 1998’s Wormwood, though slightly familiar, and showed a renewed effort to produce wholesome albums. The dominant summoning aspect of their creativity is not limited by the audiences need for familiarity or consistency, and even in the less serious designs or even vignettes, there is a distinct mark of craftiness only attached to its inception.
Animal Lover is no Commercial Album for it is more involved in long-term feelings like the new songs My Window, The Whispering Boys, Mother No More, Burn My Bones. It is no Duck Stab/Buster & Glen for it's more matured and less playful. They come dark and deceptively personal, well aware, as they are, of impersonal meaning. Compared not only with their impacting works it is fresh and terribly grasping if allowed. Compared with Demons Dance Alone, perhaps their poppiest and saddest album thus far, it goes melancholic again with more nourishing music and less repressed pain. Animal Lovers’ instrumentation and production are just more human than Demons Dance Alone. Compare the range of instruments, the organic sounds kin to the notes playing melodies whose parts intertwine in less strict patterns. From Hunter Felt of Popmatters: “On Animal Lover, The Residents show, as always, a lot of heart and thought in the lyrics and ideas and even in their theatrical vocal performances, but that effort only sporadically shows up in the music itself.”
Something must be said for the music of Animal Lover here. More open audiences need only listen to the many sides of the albums musicality. It takes great musical steps for The Residents but certainly more than meets their ‘heart and thought in the lyrics and ideas.’ Compositionally, these songs reveal something of the theme within them, and where they don’t, they present mystery. In the preliminary notes it was said that the “…rhythm tracks are based entirely on animal noise mating patterns generated primarily by cicadas and frogs." I don’t doubt that rhythms in this album were actually taken from cicadas and frogs. These are densely layered recordings; it takes a few listens to spot technicalities amidst all the gimmicks and images. Those of us that make music know what is possible these days, and how quickly samples can be manipulated and varied, and one has a staggering choice of devices to use. And those of us that have really listened to the intricacies of The Residents' progression musically know that they are not only open to a huge range of sounds but have developed their own systems of selecting them. They have been doing this for over 30 years. This should encourage listening because Animal Lovers’ production is more specific than any of their work so far.
The premise for the album is stated to be “…a soundtrack that relate[s] directly to ‘animal love.’” The Residents have a history of being either ambiguous or vague with explanations without even showing whether it is intentional or not. On a more general note it seems that everything The Residents do is a joke, but at the same time it is a sincere philosophy. A balance is being sought, and it is rare for a ‘band’ to be so involved and open to the contradictions/mysteries of what they do. It would seem plausible that in their disguises, their lack of conventional titles and interviews, their gifts of totally unreasonable mockery of all they please, that they are asking us to trust them with this information about their release. They have before displayed some facility for quite organized thought like their philosophy for Commercial Album, a formula for writing pop songs, 40 of them, each one minute long. It is satire done constructively and freely representing so many concepts within the album, one minute at a time. The liner notes state a very plausible formula for pop songs.
The Theory at Blogcritics.org wrote a review that was very enlightening, but said one thing that needs to be commented on. The Animal Lover song Mr Bee’s Bumble is the first and most rhythmic song. It is not impossible to get a feeling for it progressing the album. The Theory said: “…it could have been whipped up during the dance remixing of the WB demos.” I was surprised at this in the carefully written review. They were right that it “signals a change in direction,” as it certainly shakes up the album as the most fast-paced and the most danceable. It is strange how it ends, though, on the decisive root note. The harder song to me so far is working wonderfully on the album, yet that note at the end doesn’t allow the song to fit into the softer, longer mysteries of Animal Lover.
Compare Demons Dance Alones’ title track with Animal Lovers' central dirge, ‘My Window’ and you hear another countless example of the bands' art of specifying their albums’ character. Though these songs share a lot of the same blue qualities, they reflect this. Listen and see what you think, for it is not easy to keep up with this most eccentric band of closeted intuition, journeys beyond taboos, analysis of how we see, or just childish dressing-up and stripping gone mad.
Animal Lover may be a bit more considerate to conventional ears than others. The production uses a depth and range of orchestral, vocal, electronic, clean, organic, and traditional instruments set to a tired or gloomy disposition, and with far more controlled discordance than fans are used to. From the process of 'On the Way to Oklahoma' to the well-timed calming instrumental ‘Dreaming of an Anthill (teeming)’, there is a mood that sustains it, though challenging. There seems no end to the instrumentation they have constructed up to now, and perhaps with more layers than ever. Experimentation was more deliberate in most of their work, whereas now they advance composition and use chaos with more timing, creating, much more strictly, pieces of music utilizing noise and sound rather than the reverse or near to it. For those that know the latter works, more clean musical composition is not new. Animal Lover compared with Wormwood compositionally is more undressed and personal, using more comfortable key changes, rhythms that are easier to take for their lack of need to shift and surprise. But when you really compare these two spectacular albums, it all boils down to theme and direction. Wormwood has the hollow fear of God through and through. It touches the atmosphere of modern church and the ancient confusion of man’s worship and devices. Animal Lover comes of a different need altogether, and is more broad than Wormwood, covering rawness with a deeper resonance of weathered musical parts, and generally leaning towards the soothing. One suspects the band is starting to put therapy into their music rather than strictly theme.
The Residents are closer to attracting recognition from a wider audience, but still far from right-field. Their themes and lyrics point to unresolved psychosis and differing natures of corruption with humor, though not all certain as ever, but are by far not as self-satisfied (though one still tends to get transported into their world without a map). Their push toward mass appeal seems to be trying to alter mass appeal itself throughout their history. And though this album is no exception, it does seem to utter some mass appeal qualities like the broad theme of animal nature in humans. Without the preliminary notes about the philosophy of "Food goes in one end and sh*t comes out the other. Sperm goes in and babies come out. It's all we've got, that and love," they have created a rather imposing album, including the attractive cover, between rock and samba and horror-show score. But there is an indescribable quality.
Inner conflict seems to be a theme. The Animal Lover bonus CD has no title except for two passages in opposite colors. One gives an account of an experience which can’t be taken as much more than a joke due to its incoherence. The other passage explains that experience more practically, emphasizing time running out and the importance of remembering what had happened before the memories were ‘absorbed by my Imaginary Jack.’ That CD reinterprets the original Animal Lover songs with intensified imagination in what is at some times like a river-ride through sensory overloads. It seems carefully constructed, considering their style of quick and impulsive compositions and arrangements, and veers from their new cohesiveness. By the end, if the listener is still at attention, they may sense disturbance and sickness. It is the escape from Animal Lover songs taken to extremes and overdone on purpose [For a schizophrenic it could have twisted effects, even for Residents music].
By its urgency one is reminded of the 2003-4 album 12 Days of Brumalia that sneaked at us effortlessly with its disguised and hot electric energy (with the use of royalty-free samples), as if aimed at to the night-life of very affluent politicians. These mostly instrumental tracks are very un-self-conscious, urgent and drive with American or consumer traditions; themes of Thanksgiving ‘turkey-day’, the tune of ‘Partridge in a Pear Tree’, greed, pity, and an exaggerated revamp of Jello Jack the Boneless Boy. The track Day 12 musically dramatizes a heated political rally with such fullness, using car horns, crowd rages and tinkling cocktails, that plays a scene of ceremonious distraction in the face of crisis brilliantly and manipulatively. Many of the sampling, hot tones and honestly straight guitars are used similarly in Animal Lover. 12 Days probably stands alone a sharper work than the bonus ‘Imaginary Jack’ CD, but like all their work, they have given each a special gift that cannot compare with the rest in at least one way. But while Animal Lover is more accessible, longer, and more whole than 12 Days, it is yet another take, partly, on popular music. 12 Days is more of a semi-dance album. You wonder how or how much farther into pop they will go. You wonder what they won’t do. Listening to them progress through Wormwood, Icky Flix, Demons Dance Alone, 12 Days of Brumalia and Animal Lover, these are serious works of reckoning with the masses (who are mostly not listening), a struggle which could be taking away their faces in the music market.
Animal Lover the album is a more connective, more collected part of The Residents’ journey than others, and though you wonder whether you’ll learn something more from it in 3 years’ time, it has some sincerely well written songs like ‘Burn My Bones’ ‘Monkey Man’ ‘Dead Men’, or ‘Elmer’s Song’. Upon first hearing Elmer’s Song I was stunned into thinking it was the first religious or sincere thing they had put out. The lyric ‘God is waiting for you’ was believable and curious at first. But then it falls into mockery with Elmer’s opinion of ‘White people should remain in bed.’ Elusive again, and more conniving than ever I’ve heard them before, it is so beautifully played, a tempo of baptism in a river, that steel guitar rocking you to sleep, hypnotizing, clean and chiming, and against a huge regal chorus that calls you from the inside. That’s a first. I don’t know who engineered the album but that guitar has more qualities than it seems it could. I think it’s one aspect of the well-crafted balance of the album, an example of the conducive production which has improved almost every release.
In this album The Residents have been patient: they have stayed familiar (with the flexibility that will always allow them), and kept sight of so many more varieties of mood, color (though often melancholic), arranged plainly beautiful parts for classical instruments, and done some self analysis as well. The theme of creating ones’ own world occurs. ‘On the Way to Oklahoma’ is about becoming your own fantasy, told by a man-turned-cat. Whether the rest of the album continues this idea, aside from the bonus CD, begs more investigation. They typically aim at the nature of things, so a song like ‘Olive and Grey’, referring to the hue of a stolen penis, is probably based on someone’s personal views. There is for each song a story of an animals’ (except the Monkey Man) account of the songs event. These give enlightening ideas and play on words at times in pleasing ways. But whether they offer themselves towards an overall theme of the album I have yet to understand.
It is good to have a different point of view for each song, especially when they are character driven. The Monkey Man’s story and song is about societies’ restrictions on communication, clearly, but with plenty of room for the mysteries of The Monkey Man, who just stares at people, to be re-evaluated. The song itself must be noted for its extremely good timing of murky, chiming and summoning fear. The use of the dog bark is especially evocative at the last change. It’s really a shocking song.
Two Lips is a wonderful materialistic rampage in the mind of the consumer. The parallel story is of the ant, who cannot learn to understand why the man, who has mounds of possessions, sells everything he has to buys tulips which are so impractical. It’s cleverly ironic how greed of image drives the man to sell his life to tulips, because losing everything for beauty is not the answer either. It is based on the tulip craze of Holland.
The bridge The Residents are building from the deep inner world to the brave expense of the outer could be called brave, or laborious. If only they would be clearer and simpler with their ideas. They are so very indulgent with expressing the urgent that their message may be lost. Not enough have heard of ‘America’s most eccentric band’, or ‘The world’s most famous unknown band.’ Listeners have to volunteer to be taken in to their world. And after going the stretch, it unfortunately doesn’t resemble reality too often. Of course that’s a good thing, but not always accessible. It is my hypothesis, therefore, that the whole business of memories being absorbed by this Imaginary Jack is a cry for help or a warning against the powers of imagination (from utmost, overt trip-heads). Just listen to them spin out of control and lead into madness, giving us permission to go bonkers for over 30 years.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: press release
The Residents' Animal Lover
"Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate in their object-relations." -- Sigmund Freud
When Charles Darwin first proposed in the late 1800's that homo sapiens had evolved from and were in fact a species of animal, many humans were horrified. Humans had an unusual need to feel superior, something their fellow animal associates had never quite understood. When Sigmund Freud a few years later destroyed the accepted opposition between sanity and madness by locating "normality" on a sliding scale, the poor humans were even more shocked. Taking a step beyond Darwin, Freud believed that the human was an animal in conflict, and informing the human of that very simple concept seemed to only increase the conflict.
In The Residents' Animal Lover, the creatures who don't really mind if they are animals take an existential look at the upright animal whose normality is sliding toward the wrong end of the spectrum. The human beasts live in a world of primal darkness, their heads forever stuck in the ground like frightened ostriches living in a constant murky dream state.
In creating this picture book of animal tales, The Residents wanted to include a soundtrack that related directly to "animal love." The result is an imaginative CD whose rhythm tracks are based entirely on animal noise mating patterns generated primarily by cicadas and frogs. Also the actual sounds of mating whales and humans were used for longer tonal passages. They weren't mating with each other, by the way.
So the world is filled with tubular entities. Food goes in one end and shit comes out the other. Sperm goes in one hole, babies come out another. It's all we've got. That and love.