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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Review - The Residents: Animal Lover CD

My relationship with The Residents must be like what Chicago Cubs fans go through, but what do I know, since, to paraphrase the cop from Street Trash, I follow baseball like old people f—k. I’m their unofficial and unwanted career advisor. I WANT them to be successful, and so does Big Rez in spite of the self-destruct mechanism in his DNA. The sad speech at the end of the Demons Dance Alone show was textbook Munchausen By Proxy.

Big Rez is the leader and maybe only remaining original member. Potbelly Rez might be too. Gawd, everybody with a passing interest knows who the Residents really are. The “mystery” angle reeks of staleness. Molly Harvey is 50% of the Residents as a reason to like them. She’s great.

The reviews generally understand The Residents and Animal Lover pretty well, which means they’re understood and taken seriously by the media. At least as much as their recordings warrant. The Popmatters review is especially good so read it and I’ll go from there.

The Residents are brilliant but suffer from ADD and Big Ideas. They start with huge plans and end with whatever they’re able to pull together. Animal Lover is very successful as a reel of ideas to be mixed down into something great as a touring show. What The Residents really need is a guru with experience staging performances that appeal to the PBS crowd. That’s the money and the future of the franchise. The fans will follow no matter what, and anyone expecting Eskimo Jr. should be shot. The Residents refer to themselves in everything they do so the fans should be pleased as punch if their band gets it right in widening their appeal.

On Animal Lover the Ry Cooder –Stan Ridgway film score elements work well. The choruses STINK and should be deleted entirely. The guitar has been happily freed from its Snakefinger-Is-Dead-Long-Live-Snakefinger restrictions. Molly’s “ugly” voices are more tolerable than Big Rez’s. The kettle drum sound on the xylophone synth is intense, impressive and most of all entertaining to an audience.

As a performance this should be pared down to one continuous hour, mixing instrumentals, songs with lyrics and performance elements in a sequence that flows, moves and does not repeat. The biggest problem with Residents shows since the Cube-E Tour (stunning but never filmed. Bastards!) is that they have Big Rez and company repeat shtick. In Wormwood they waved props around randomly. Icky Flix and Disfigured Night had Molly and Big Rez moving around each other as they interacted. Sorry to say this but Biz Rez should limit his up-front time and keep the ugly to a minimum. They should also realize that simply playing music as a band can be just as interesting as seeing a stage show.

Hey, it only took two songs for them to say penis in the context of dismemberment. Remember how God In 3 Persons ended? That’s right, with Mr. X raping a knife wound. Self-destruction in 5,4,3,2,1…boooooooom.

Animal Lover has a lot of greatness in it and it’s a step up in a number of ways from other recent albums. It’s just that it’s formless and in need of both paring and reassembly. I know what’s better for The Residents then The Residents do. It’s my blessing and my curse.


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