Review Summary: A social critique.
Pink Floyd can never be criticized for not having anything worth saying. Following the commercial perfection of Dark Side of the Moon and the emotionally exhausting Wish You Were Here, Waters and co. returned to the studio to write a follow up. Animals was released on January 1977 and it acts as a critique of capitalism and sociopolitical conditions of the time in Britain.
During the mid-70s, when Pink Floyd has just about conquered the musical world, a punk rock movement was starting to gain steam in Britain. As expected, Pink Floyd were a constant target from these musicians, hell Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols) used to wear a Pink Floyd shirt to the stage with the words ‘I Hate’ scribbled on. Animals was somewhat motivated by this music movement, as the band went back to their underground roots and focused on the dangers of the capitalism.
As most of Pink Floyd’s best albums, Animals was built upon a Waters concept. Partly inspired by the George Orwell novel, Animal Farm, the album is separated into three main musical pieces; ‘Dogs’, ‘Pigs’ and ‘Sheep’. The novel dealt with Stalin-ism, but the album deals with capitalism as it reduces the human condition to mere animal-ism.
‘Dogs’ is one of Pink Floyd’s best. Clocking in at just over 17 minutes, Gilmour and Waters share the vocals for this monster. The lyrics are about the militant dogs that believe they are better than everyone else, even though they do nothing but follow the orders of their superiors. It focuses on the loss of individuality of these warriors and how they are willing to get to know everyone except their own family. Gilmour shines through out this number giving one of his best vocal performances of his career. The track is progressive by nature, with long instrumental interludes and a number of musical breakdowns.
‘Pigs’ is divided into three parts; ‘Pigs on the Wing (Part 1)’ and ‘Pigs on the Wing(Part 2)’ which serve as intro and outros and ‘Pigs(Three Different Ones)’, which is the main track. At over 11 minutes long, ‘Pigs’ is divided into three different verses. Each verse presents a different pig, although the only one that clearly identifies its target is the final verse which is about Mary Whitehouse. Like in Animal Farm, the pigs represent the top of the social ladder. The ones with power, the ones deemed ‘more equal than others’. ‘Pigs’ is quite a bluesy number; also Richard Wright shines with the use of a synthesizer to add a dark moody atmosphere to the track.
‘Sheep’s is the final track, and obviously represents the mindless herd that accepts every single word their leaders tell them as gospel. Waters and Gilmour split the guitar solo duties here, as the final five minutes of the track mostly consist of simple but well played guitar riffs and solos.
Pink Floyd followed Animals up with another critique of social-political order with The Wall.