Animal Kingdom - Signs and Wonders

In evolutionary terms, there are two methods of survival: either be better and stronger than the competition or develop a unique niche to separate yourself. Animal Kingdom need to do one or the other if they intend to make it through the long, cold winter.

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Released 28 Sep 2009 | WB UK | By Anna Dobbie | Rating: 2-5
Animal Kingdom - Signs and Wonders

If Animal Kingdom were actually animals, they’d be the doe-eyed runts of the litter that mewl helplessly for their mothers while their siblings are fending for themselves in the big, wide world. They’re the type of puny specimens that surprise you with every second of their existence, because they don’t seem to have the persistence, the skill or the strength of being to survive at all. But here they are, defying nature with their debut full length.

Richard Sauberlich’s eerily effeminate vocals, despite being reminiscent of Yes’s John Anderson, are uniformly emotionless, tinkling over pleasantly forgettable melodies. The drums are low in the mix, sucking out any dynamism that elevated their live shows and the production lacks hard edges, slipping wetly down your ear canals with the minimum of resistance. However, the band finally find their sound in the last two songs, with 'Dollar Signs' tossing away the jingle-jangle in favour of drawn-out drama, while slow-burning piano-ballad 'Chalk Stars' ends the album on a high.

In evolutionary terms, there are two methods of survival: either be better and stronger than the competition or develop a unique niche to separate yourself. Animal Kingdom need to do one or the other if they intend to make it through the long, cold winter.