It’s fortunate that Animal Animus rarely sounds dated, never falling into the trap of an over-reliance on the sort of top of the line production that plagued many late ‘90s releases.
Coming in at the tail end of the century, Anima Animus finds a renewed Creatures falling head first into a modern rush of electronic influenced sounds. With flashes of gothic rock back in vogue at the time thanks to the likes of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, and its influence seeping into acts less inclined to don PVC and leather such as PJ Harvey and Portishead, Sioux and Budgie’s timing could not have been any better. The world had finally caught up to Sioux, and she was ready to show that she had also been paying attention.
Marking the Creatures’ first album in 10 years, Anima Animus found the band forgoing the traditional label-based route by creating their own imprint, Sioux Records. Whereas the Creatures originally existed as an experimental addendum to the Banshees, a free-for-all meld of influences that would sometimes reflect on the Banshees more out-there takes, Anima Animus stands as Sioux and Budgie’s first album post-Banshees. As a result, there is a beautifully reckless feeling to the proceedings — a sense of freedom that comes with the abandoning of expectations.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it strays far from the duo’s original modus operandi. Throughout the Banshees’ lifespan, they never erred from the unknown, instead choosing to gleefully challenge both themselves and their audience, and the Creatures are no different in that sense. Modern flourishes abound, as prominently heard in the light electronic throb of album opener and lead single “2nd Floor.” “Aftermath/ In an amber glow/ A vodka bath/ For this shipwrecked soul,” mourns Sioux, before fearlessly declaring, “Why fear death / When death never hurt no one.” The Banshees covered some expansive territory, but it’s hard to believe that they would adopt such an electronica-influenced sound.
While “2nd Floor” is a dance floor ready cut, a fitting soundtrack to an imaginary pre-millennium warehouse rave, much of Anima Animus digs into darker and more devious moods. “Disconnected” clinks with skull bone percussion layered over hollow smacks of drum a la PiL The song’s constant percussive drive and moody synths calls to mind a manic Massive Attack. “Prettiest Thing” casts similar shades of heaving hip-hop inspired drums and Tricky-esque vocalizing, though the Creatures spice things up with the industrial grind of buzzing synths.
While Sioux was never one to hold back lyrically, Anima Animus presents her at her most blunt and candid. “Exterminating Angel,” full of doomed imagery of “urine colored sun”s and “black holes where the star should have been” finds Sioux wanting to “fuck it up/ just for the hell of it.” All the while, Budgie conjures demonic drums and violent smashes of percussion that clash with mourning synths thrown down a cavern of reverb. Elsewhere on “Turn It On,” Sioux sounds invincible as she holds down Budgie’s maelstrom of percussion. “Hurricane and earthquake/ Monsoon and tidal wave/ Here come the storms/ They really turn me on,” she proudly flaunts over dirty wah guitar drones.
It’s fortunate that Animal Animus rarely sounds dated, never falling into the trap of an over-reliance on the sort of top of the line production that plagued many late ‘90s releases. Shades of Bjork are certainly hard to deny, the same goes for Sioux’s sometimes PJ Harvey-like rasp. However, the ease at which Sioux can slip into such varying tones and deliveries only further proves the reach of her clout. It may be seen as a desperate move for an older band to so readily jump on modern musical trends, and in the hands of any other group things surely would have gone south quickly, but Sioux and Budgie are as razor sharp as ever.