I feel like my opinion of Rational Animals records would be much higher had I not seen them before listening to them. There is an energy in their live set—that I’ve been lucky enough to see a few times—and I never felt it translated to their recorded material. That being said, I’ve never had to objectively review their records so it was easy to pass them off as one of those, “Well, you had to be there” bands that are forever stuck in one place and time, to a very specific group of people who were lucky enough to see them. So I’m listening to this 7” trying to push out any memory I have of seeing them. These two tracks are slower and heavier (the B side especially) than I remember from their other records, with a late ‘80s SST slant on modern punk. The guitars are punchy and evil in a good way and the beats are somehow danceable. Maybe giving them a more attentive listen has yielded better results, or maybe this single is just better than the stuff I heard previously, but the songs, while not really “catchy,” do have a character to them that I feel their earlier material was lacking. However, they fall short of the expectations they create even in these songs, as I just don’t want to listen to it again. I can’t think of a time when these two songs would pop up on a mix tape or DJ set and I would get excited. The song “Gabrielle” is fantastic lyrically and creates a haunting mental image, but I don’t hear the voice of the character in the music. It’s hard to be negative about something when it’s obvious that this record was created with pure artistic intentions and you can really feel that they aren’t holding anything back, but after a few listens, I feel no connection to these songs. Maybe in a little while I’ll be able to share these songs with someone in one of those late nights of flipping through records with a friend, the way these records seem to come up because they just haunt us like “Gabrielle.” “It’s been a long time since I’ve heard this record. The A side is this really sad song, I think it’s maybe about his mom…”, but right now I just don’t feel it.
–Ian Wise (Cowabunga)