Articles 94 | 96
| Reviews 94 | 96
Live review, NME, 21 Sept.
These Animal Men - London Chalk Farm Monarch
BLOODY HELL. Time was when yer average These Animal Men gig consisted
of little more than eyeliner, amphetamines and a few excerpts from
Hooligans big book of Cock-Rock Poses. But, as tonight's comeback
gig shows, they've dispensed with all that half-arsed new wave nonsense
and morphed, Terminator 2 style, into something a whole lot more
For the new, improved Animal Men are a lurching, glammed-up groove
unit of bastard proportions and, what's new, they're all the better
for it. They've even roped in a new keyboard player who, taking
the Chris Lowe /weirdo from Sparks tradition of motionless cool
to new extremes, actually refuses to play a single note all night.
Now that's sophistication.
The new songs are excellent, particularly the stomping ode to T-rex,
'Monumental Moneymaker', and the new single 'Life Support Machine',
both of which are driven along by the sort of sexy, grinding riffs
that Girls Against Boys have been trying to mine for years. Elsewhere,
the sprawling, instrumental epic 'My Magazine' underlines the bands
new-found sense of ambition, while set closer 'April 7th' is so
powerful it hurts; truly an 'It's So Easy' for the '90s.
Of course, it's all shamelessly derivative. But then that's because
These Animal Men understand (as did the Manics, before they decided
sucking Satan's AOR cock was a good career move) that when you live
in a world of endless clichés, it's just no use running away
And, as it all dissolves into howling feedback, you get the feeling
that against all the odds, these losers are gonna be alright.
Single review, NME, 31 Aug. 1996:
These Animal Men - Life Support Machine (Hut)
Now these Fellas know a good bandwagon when they see one. Ver
Men have been away, grown their hair, forgotten how to pronounce
NWONW and taken a good long look at what's 'happening in the charts.
Lord alone knows what charts they were looking in though, since
they've come up with a heady cocktail of Heavy Stereo '70s raunch,
Smurfs style squeaky vocals and week long Clapton-esque guitar solos.
All very well, but I ask you: did Salv Smash dye his hair for this?
Accident and Emergency review, Select, Aug.
These Animal Men - Accident and Emergency (Hut)
Chart positions aside, you can always tell when things are going
wrong with a rock group. Their line-up, traditionally forged in
the playground, undergoes fatal changes. The in house dress code
gets comprehensively revamped. Before you know it, people who once
oozed coherence and suss from every pore start making records that
make absolutely no sense.
Just look at These Animal Men: disgraced vanguard unit in the bijou
upsurge that was the New Wave Of New Wave. In the slipstream of
the predictable punk-glam hybrid that was debut LP '(Come On Join)
The High Society', their long time drummer recently went back to
his parents. They've also taken on bizarre leather-and-pinstripes
stylings and finally released this - an album scheduled for release
last September. It's cover alone (the old membership, drenched in
Max Factor, pulling semi-ludicrous rock poses with admirably straight
faces) satisfies the zero-rhyme-and-reason-rule. And that, gloriously
enough, is the point...
Accident and Emergency was made by a group who realise that this
was probably their last chance: having binned an earlier effort
made in the throes of recovery from a semi-alcoholic lifestyle,
they focussed themselves and reportedly made the record they'd
always wanted to hear. The result is an album that was pushed out
of the orbit of reason, rationality and the money-led imperative
to sound like either Oasis or (currently) Beck: ten songs that -
aside from pointless thrash '24 Years (sic) to live' - tend
to sound like communiqués from another plane.
Hyperbole? Unfortunately not. 'Life Support Machine' is a reverb-drenched
12-bar blues that features helium-enhanced backing vocals and guitars
that sound like malfunctioning radios. On 'So Sophisticated'. Vocalist
Boag gives up trying to make his lyrics scan (and, indeed, singing
anything decipherable) and ends up creating something simultaneously
fantastic and ridiculous. 'When your hands are tied' meanwhile is
- and there really is no other way of putting this - a surreal lullaby
about sexual loathing which features the line "Time after time
when you climb into bed /Your skin turns to scales instead".
of this album, in all honesty, is probably the result of These Animal
Men realising that when the waves of fashion are set to smash your
house to pieces, there's no sense in trying to surf them. Why else
would it try to combine straight-laced glam rock with the spirit
of The Specials' 'Ghost Town' ('Riverboat Captain')? Or deliver
preposterous, faux-Spainish guitars in the middle of a song as London-centric
as 'New Wave Girl'?
Lord alone knows what happens next for them. Precious little in
all likelihood - though cultish fame ten years hence is the least
they deserve. Whatever, 'Accident and Emergency' makes a mockery
of the idea that dullards like Mansun ('We've got loads of ambition!
We use orchestras!') are in any way musically adventurous.
Brilliantly insane - and therefore almost insanely brilliant.
Soundbite: "Animal Magic." 4/5
NME Review: Accident and Emergency
FEW MAY mourn the passing of the gloriously short-lived mini-scene
that was New Wave Of New Wave, even if cheap speed, V-necks, rhymes
about Gillian Shepherd and ridiculous cartoon sneers seemed like
the ultimate raw materials for revolution one crazy winter in 1994.
And fewer still may care for the fate of These Animal Men, the scene's
cabinet ministers without portfolio, but with a suitably silly 'manifesto'
designed to nail their spittle to the toilet walls of suburbia.
But you should since, on this quite possibly a last will and testament,
they're raving and drowning in frequently thrilling style.
They've already shown us the way to go. They realised that genius
is ridiculous, and so is great rock'n'roll, invariably. It's there
to be played with, gagging to be assailed by your worst excesses.
And so they played with the idea of being a glam-punk caricature
and a commodity, and were duly ridiculed as such. And yet, you suspect,
if other guitar bands had a fraction of their attitude, their loving-it
loucheness and their spirit, then what used to be called 'alternative'
music wouldn't be such a mess of mediocrity. On this fin-de-sicle
rock folly, they even provoke such unlikely adjectives as 'original',
'ambitious' and 'anthemic'. Who'd have thought it? Not you...
'Life Support Machine' (the first of several self-consciously terminal
illness-themed titles) is clearly the sound of a band throwing midweek
chart rundowns to the wind and frenziedly carving out a pop song
like they always imagined it could be. Atop 12-bar sleaze-rock there
spins a macabre children's choir, guitars skidding across black
ice and spooky prog-rock organ, while vocalist Boag sounds like
Steve Harley on weird hormone drugs. Likewise, 'Light Emitting Electrical
Wave' could be Suede if they hadn't pulled back from the brink of
madness around 'Dog Man Star' and they'd recruited a John Squire
disciple in on guitar. Almost.
And then, urban melodrama glam-sadcore anyone? That'll be 'Riverboat
Captain' then, soon after which comes the anthemic '24 Hours To
Live' which appears to epitomise that rock'n'roll idea that every
record should be treated like your last night on earth.
A thematic link can perhaps be made between past and present passions
when you see a title like 'New Wave Girl', except this has another
kids' choir on and such inspirationally daft lyrics as, "New
York, Croydon, Barcelona, Swindon, Arndale jean bell every girl
in Finland". On your side, darlings.
They're let down elsewhere by a paucity of actual top-drawer tunes
amid the bad craziness, which, in truth, was always their fatal
flaw. But enough of such reality bites - this is still a startling
and admirable record from a band who deserve more than to rage so
hard against the dying of the light.
Q Review, These Animal Men Accident &
* * * (3 stars)
Reviewed: May 1997
Release Date: 14-Apr-1997
The Difficult Second Album. When TAM came out with (Come On, Join)
The High Society in 1994, they were riding on the crest of the New
Wave Of New Wave, singer Boag's antics setting the pace for the
new face of Brit rock. Somewhere along the line, though, they lost
their nerve, recorded a follow-up, binned it, went back into the
studio and have finally come up with this strange mish-mash. The
glam bluesy riffs of Life Support Machine and the slash rock of
Ambulance Man are pure TAM, but Riverboat Captain, a folk lament
set to glam rock, and Wichita Lineman, a Jimmy Webb classic turned
acid psychedelic, are just perplexing - experimentation for its
own sake. The album has its charged moments, but what's missing
is their early unshakeable focus.
Review of Accident & Emergency, Popscene
Fanzine, Autumn 96
As I write this review, I'm not actually listening to the album,
but watching These Animal Men live on stage for what, unfortunately,
could well turn out to be one of their last ever gigs. There's a
very good reason for my doing this. "Accident And Emergency"
is one of the best albums to emerge from the world of indie guitar
pop in the past ten years, and it betters their previous effort
"(Come On Join) The High Society" by miles. In the past,
These Animal Men could only talk about wanting to belong to the
great lineage of British guitar pop, while their music - as good
as it was - could only manage an updated approximation of the Buzzcocks
sound. With this album, however, they've managed to capture all
of those elusive influences and distill them down into an amazing
sound that thunders like The Who at their loudest, wails like a
lost Glam Rock single battering its way out of an ancient mono speaker,
and plays with the same genre-straddling bravado that Blur have
employed to such memorable effect, and boasts a load of great songs
to boot. But it's being ignored by the music press and audiences
alike. Apparently, it's not the done thing to like These Animal
Men any more. As with any band who've had the audacity to have been
around for more than six months, they are now being laughed at and
ignored in equal measure as people fall over themselves to express
to the world that they like whatever is being deemed 'trendy' at
the moment. For the sake of a couple of extra column inches about
vogueish dance artists that can be read about in any magazine in
the world at the moment, a great album is being totally sidelined.
These Animal Men probably won't pull through this career lull -
they're already suffering from record company disinterest and personnel
jitters, and unless the album somehow fights through this wave of
apathy to become a million seller, the smart money says they will
have split within a year. One day, though, someone will pull a copy
out of a pile of discarded 'flop' releases, play it, and start banging
on about how fantastic it was. And I'll be able to say that I knew
Articles 94 | 96
| Reviews 94 | 96