Pink Floyd responded in part to the punk rock movement’s fast, short, and aggressive tunes by… putting out an LP with five complex and relatively languid songs, three of which are longer than 10 minutes. And it is awesome.
1977’s Animals is an album that’s best experienced as an album. I suppose you could play “Sheep” or “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” as stand-alones, but why would you? If you’ve never listened to this one, you need to clear an hour (actually about 45 minutes) and sit down and give it some attention.
“Pigs on the Wing (Part One)” and “Pigs on the Wing (Part Two)” are short and succinct acoustic pieces that bookend the album. Together they don’t quite add up to three minutes.
Saying a Pink Floyd record features amazing guitar work by David Gilmour is pretty much redundant, but Animals has Gilmour delivering some particularly long and satisfying solos. “Dogs” in particular has a bunch of great work by Gilmour. It’s an epic piece at more than 17 minutes, but it doesn’t seem like it’s all that long.
If you’re familiar with Pink Floyd’s entire body of work, you know that lengthy songs are nothing new. What feels different here is that they feel more focused than, say, “Echoes” off of Meddle and more polished. All the tricks they’ve picked up doing Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here have carried over.
I have an appreciation for almost every album in Pink Floyd’s catalog (Atom Heart Mother doesn’t do a lot for me, nor does Division Bell or The Endless River), but Animals feels like Floyd at its musical peak. It’s not the first album I’d give newcomers, but I find it on my playlists more than most of their work.