So much has been said about the seriousness of music that we often forget to just have a good time with it. Purists argue that music should be carefully left alone and not tainted in any possible way, while others combat that music should be an expression of whatever you’re feeling and allowing it to run its own course is far more important. Whatever the case may be, or whatever side you’re on, you have to appreciate something as fresh as Rafter. With poppy music that is all about letting loose and being free, this is the kind of electronic music that is on the entirely opposite side of what someone like Pantha Du Prince is making. Though the latter may in fact be better, Animal Feelings is an album that can move you in its own special way.
From the very beginning, after tirelessly telling off his haters, “For all of your boldness, for all your coldness, for all of the things that you tried but never showed anyone,” Rafter is not going to play around with his music this time around. Instead, for his fourth album, the San Diego native has taken to a much more idiosyncratic outlook, one that recalls Midnite Vultures-era Beck, amongst others. In that same playful but still very much capable style, Rafter tosses around ideas about money, the evilness in people, the optimist in us all and even, the beauty that surrounds us. And when you start things off with something as jubilantly enveloping as “No Fucking Around,” let the games begin.
Usually, we lose grasp of what music was originally intended for and that was for people to enjoy and have fun with. Sometimes, Rafter gets a little bit too carefree and such is the case with the clunky lyrics of “Paper” as he loosely calls out “you motherfuckers” and then asks for some paper but on the other hand, the music is bubbly and upbeat, always pushing towards a smooth drive. And he even deploys a snarky guitar and lays low on the chattering “Fruit,” for even with his talking box and vocal altering methods, he is bluntly asking her “Will you share your fruit with me?” and even if she says no, at least we had fun asking her.
On his White Rabbits influenced “Timeless Form, Formless Time,” Rafter sings to the backdrop of clamoring horns and percussion that melts away just in time for his sparkling guitar to come through as he sings “I don’t need anyone else in my arms but you, tonight…because you’re my girl and I love my girl.” Sure, there is a certain amount of silliness but who ever said there was a problem with sincerity? Elsewhere, he highlights obvious truths like “Sometimes love makes me happy. But other times it feels terrible, just terrible,” on “Love Makes You Happy.” And when you’re supported by a striking guitar and a happy-go-lucky vibe, you can’t go wrong in shrugging it off.
The inside is filled with his own touches of splendor and whatnot but the outside is a colorful variety of tuneful sounds. These aren’t the most outlandish songs but they also aren’t the most invasive either; it’s all about how much you’re willing to let go and enjoy pop music in one of its most honest states. And even if it doesn’t move you, Animal Feelings will definitely have you grooving and shaking for quite some time.
“Paper” by Rafter