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share: Animal Lover by The Residents

By Anthony Garone

This is the first album that ever literally dropped my jaw.

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Animal Lover

This is the first video in a series called “Jaw Droppers” where I’ll feature albums that have literally made me lose track of time until I suddenly realize I’ve been sitting slack-jawed while listening for 20 minutes or more.

The first album I want to feature is “Animal Lover” by The Residents. This album has had a profound impact on me. It is absolutely not for the light-hearted listener. It’s like listening to your worst nightmare. This is not an exaggeration.

Buy “Animal Lover” as a digital download on iTunes. Check it out!

I distinctly remember being at my desk at work and listening to an online stream of the album back when it came out in 2004. I had just gotten out of a meeting that ended at around 2PM and I started listening. About 40 minutes later, I awoke from a trance. The music and its absolute strangeness completely captivated me.

It starts with a song called “On the Way to Oklahoma” that describes a man who becomes a cat, falls in love with a tiger, and then eats a dog. The vocals are highly digitized, harmonized, and oddly melodic. This song was so stunning that I decided to have a music listening party with several friends just so I could play it for them. My friends jokingly referenced the lyrics for years after that night.

The next song, “Olive and Gray” is truly terrifying. It seems to be about a man who indecently exposes himself and then gets stoned to death. It is an incredible piece of music, too. Very complex, lots of dreamy instrumentation, tons of dissonance, and a cacophonous choir. This is one of the scariest songs I’ve ever heard. It literally makes me tear up in fear.

Guitarist Nolan Cook absolutely shines on this record. Molly Harvey’s vocals are haunting. The orchestration is beautifully arranged and performed. It’s a very musical and melodic album with almost-timeless production qualities. The recording quality is top-notch, too, which isn’t a standard feature on all Residents albums. But make no mistake, each song is like an assault on one or more of the senses. It’s truly bizarre.

Watch our interview with Homer Flynn of the Cryptic Corporation, the Residents’ personal and business managers.

And let’s not forget the artwork! It’s definitely not safe for work and it’s barely safe for private consumption. The lyric booklet in this 2-disc special edition is just gorgeous, although it’s definitely a product of its time.

All of this to say that it’s one of my favorite albums of all time and definitely my favorite Residents album. It holds a special place in my life for reasons I probably don’t even want to think about.

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