Animals & Men
“Never Bought Never Sold” LP (Mississippi 024)
I hope this LP collection of Animals & Men heralds a new era of vinyl reissues of classic UK DIY material. First archived on a Messthetics CD, Animals & Men seem as good a choice as any for the vinyl treatment, with their understated humdrum homemade music about the travails of their quotidian lives. They managed to balance an ambition to create a wholly new genre (what I might call “wave-a-billy”) with painful shyness, too. Unusually, they had opportunities to “make it,” or at least to get a foot in the commercial door, but they chose not to pursue them. This LP has great sound quality, top-notch liner notes, and an attractive visual presentation (I really like the front cover). Most fans of UK DIY will appreciate the at-times claustrophobic and sparse sound of their early tunes and ironic lyrics delivered with aplomb by singer Susan, like “Don’t Misbehave in the New Age.” But the new sound they later attempted to invent, which apparently did not go over well, mixed the drab feelings of suburban UK life under Thatcher with a soulful bluesiness. At first thought, it seems a paradox, but its ingredients are not terribly different from those of the Southern Californian deathrock sound that Rikk Agnew typified. Spain’s Desechables offer another apt comparison, minus, natch, their lasciviousness. Animals & Men are English after all.