Shades of Pink
PINK MILITARY: ‘Do Animals Believe In God?’ (Eric’s Records 004)
GEOGRAPHICALLY SPEAKING, Pink Military belong in Liverpool with The Teardrop Explodes, Echo & The Bunnymen, Nightmares In Wax, Orchestral Manoeuvres, etcetera.
Thankfully, none of these people have relied too heavily on the security of a self-built clique scene or a mythical “Liverpool sound” to usher themselves into full public view. In the case of Teardrop and Echo, the sheer excellence of their respective pop has sufficied in turning a few heads.
In the case of Pink Military, there’s less to grasp hold of, less of a young look-at-me arrogance; less “fun”, perhaps?
’Do Animals Believe In God?’ is as curious and searching as its own title suggests.
Oddly, the album splits into two distinct sections, side one melodic, patient pop, uncluttered and (mostly) warm… side two harsh and grim, characterised by a series of repetitive tribal chants, “Been living in the jungle”, “is this heaven? Is this hell?” and so on.
’Degenerated Man’ opens the thing; overdrawn and sub-Siouxsie-like, it leaves less taste than it should, though it makes way for better things.
’I Cry’ and ‘Did You See Her’ are both reflective poptones with curvaceous melodies and words that evoke rather than specify. And ‘Wild West’ follows. It’s magnificent, eerie and perplexing, held together by a savage disco thump; sounds fly around, bounce off walls, jut in and out, Jane’s voice falling and rising from the muse of a Patti Smith to the gasping snap of a Pauline Murray.
This first side is elegant, strongly directed and precious; its pop is the best sort of pop —
The other side’s ‘Heaven/Hell’ (which starts on a sort of Beatles ‘Revolution 9' tape amalgam) and ‘Living In The Jungle’ are altogether more stern, threatening gasps of sound, at times like the darker side of PiL, fractured and sound-warped, rattling and crashing along. Dub, chants, random sounds… the entire album suddenly sweeps off in some desperate new direction, voices in and out of focus, instruments colliding.
If there’s a self, indulge it, in this, Pink Military’s’ case, side two indulgence represents more a means to get at something than it does of masturbating the ego. It craves an understanding.
Clues and hints are spread around like butter (“They nailed him to a cross/They thought his cause was lost/They didn’t think it had just begun/And as the clock went round/He started gaining ground/And no one thought he might be lying”) but there’s never a final, terminal proof of what Pink Military are prodding away at.
That’s the secret of ‘Do Animals Believe In God?’ Its mystique is its lure is its success. At times surrealistic, at times alluring and cuddly, at times just simply daunting. ‘Animals’ is irrefutably built to last.
In a world that still prefers tits with gimmicks (or gimmicks with tits) Pink Military’s loving fight may yet leave them standing alone.
I know this: I’ve spent a weekend with it, and still it draws me back and in. I shouldn’t expect more than that. ☆☆☆☆☆