Pink Floyd - Animals
“Pigs on the Wing (Part One)” is a pleasant door chime for the Usherian house of social, political, and psychological drama the listener is about to enter. Loosely inspired by Orwell’s Animal Farm, Animals is perhaps the most ruthless attack on society and, well, everything Pink Floyd ever assembled. It’s no coincidence that it’s also the first album primarily written by Waters and an undercurrent of anxiety and anger is palpable.“Dogs” offers an instructional parable for the aspiring Patrick Bateman. The playbook: ruthlessness is rewarded by some wealth and comfort before “dying of cancer alone.” Gilmour shines in an extended instrumental passage as his screeching tones (and echoing counterpoint) are woven beautifully with understated supporting work from the rest of the band. As the song progresses, self-consciousness awakens within the “dog”, and the bliss of the ignorant gives way to the terror of the aware. The weight of a life spent in mindless pursuit of capitalistic success is concretized, a stone composed of regret and pain. The song concludes as Waters chants out a list of accusations before finally condemning him, them, us, to death.
Pink Floyd’s skewering of capitalistic Britain gets no cheerier with “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”. It throws a funky but curled fist at the capitalists running the show. Gilmour once again prevails as he weaves his churlish guitar around some overdone (and unironic) cowbell. Meanwhile, Waters leaves his mark in the derisive chorus of ha ha charade you are.
On “Sheep”, Wright and Waters combine forces for the band’s sleekest organ/bass combo in their oeuvre. Set at a ripping tempo, it’s perfectly paced for the tale of slaughter, revolution ,and redemption. Our sheep have teeth, they bite back, and the dogs are dead. But ultimately, new boss = old boss. The song concludes as Gilmour outdoes himself, launching wave after wave of defiant chords.
Animals offered zero moral complexity and set the stage for Waters’ inward turn/exploration that would ultimately manifest as the transcendent The Wall.