Rafter’s “Animal Feelings”
There are only so many ways to tell you that (Robert) Rafter is a musical genius—working beats into submission and leaking sugar-sweet hypnosis all through your speakers and headphones. If you can’t get footloose to Animal Feelings, you probably don’t have feet, and that’s the bare truth. Rafter begins with a spoonful of voice distorters, […]Beth Yeckley
out of 10
April 13, 2010
There are only so many ways to tell you that (Robert) Rafter is a musical genius—working beats into submission and leaking sugar-sweet hypnosis all through your speakers and headphones. If you can’t get footloose to Animal Feelings, you probably don’t have feet, and that’s the bare truth.
Rafter begins with a spoonful of voice distorters, but quickly pours out his silky smooth vocals over the first track, “No F*cking Around.” And that’s exactly what Rafter is doing—there’s not an ounce of wasted anything on this album. You’d be hard pressed to find a trace of crass invention in the melting pot of beats and funk-laden rhythms that he’s putting out.
In songs like “Fruit,” Rafter introduces sounds that are like alien transmissions, or the beats to which they’d march. The guitar plays a dominant role in the song and makes it one of the best tracks on the album. He makes it sound effortless to have a good time. And it’s my general belief that anytime there’s clapping involved, it’s guaranteed that multiple people are having a good time.
“A Frame” hints at an Eastern-influenced cling and clang while “Beauty, Beauty” has a dose of horns as thick as peanut butter. And the change-ups in the percussion and the bombastic hollowed out thumps in “Animal Feelings” really add an early 90’s hip-hop and funk flavor.
However, what I think is most intriguing about Animal Feelings is the strange love connection between the lyrics and the music itself. Without a doubt, his lyrical compositions are firing on a few favored cylinders. “Timeless Form, Formless Time” flagrantly leads listeners in circles. There’s no story-telling here, but instead I feel like I’m in the conscious progressive thought cycle of a man with pretty basic yet deliberate messages. In the latter song, he sings, “I don’t care for original thought / ‘Cause I like you, I love you a lot / I’m going to sing about it now / Yeah, I’m going to sing about it now.”
He follows up with “Love Makes You Happy,” which exists in the vein of that circular lyrical pattern. It has a cultish flair but that’s easily overlooked by its jesting nature as he sings, “’Cause love makes you happy / Love makes you happy / It makes you happy / When it’s not making you sad / The neighborhood kids set your car on fire / So you ride your bike but you puncture your tire / None of this could get you down / ‘Cause you turned your frown upside down.”
Songs like “A Frame” and “Paper” show a darker side of Rafter. But it’s his ability to spin cynicism with wit, rather than blatant aggression, that creates in his music the most invincible monster. In “Paper,” he’s able to spin charm into lines that makes vulgarity sound like a picture of a five-year old eating cotton candy with his grandparents under Fourth of July fireworks.
It feels like this album is a cavalier move by Rafter, but it’s far from it. In fact, there is no caution to be thrown here, because he’s clearly not made of caution. He’s made of cocksure talent that frankly, benefits us all.