Pink Military – “Do Animals Believe In God?”

Most of what I’ve been able to find about the short-lived Pink Military hits on a few pertinent facts, making it seem very much like the band sort of came and went before anyone noticed. Fronted by former Big In Japan member Jayne Casey, Pink Military formed in mid 1978 and were gone by 1981, leaving behind a pair of singles, an EP, and one full length record, Do Animals Believe In God? (1980). They also recorded a pair of Peel sessions for good measure. A number of musicians cycled through the lineup, both coming from and eventually going to some well known groups like Deaf School, The Durutti Column, Simply Red, and The Slits.

I came across Do Animals Believe In God? during what turned out to be a surprisingly productive visit to Seattle’s Georgetown Records, where I also left with Venom’s Possessed and a cool three record Sonny Vincent anthology. I’ve done OK there in the past as well… I may need to get that shop into regular rotation if for no other reason than to check the new arrivals section.

Do Animals Believe In God? strikes me as an album from a transitional period, one moving away from post-punk (but holding onto to some of that genre’s gloom) and towards new wave. The roots are certainly post-punk, clearly evidenced by the first three tracks, which are all excellent. I particularly enjoyed “Degenerated Man,” which felt like a downtempo Devo number, slow and low enough to almost make you wonder if you shouldn’t be playing this on 45. At other times the new wave comes right to the front, like on “Wild West,” a number that easily could have been done by early Blondie. The darker numbers are the most intriguing, though, and I could play “I Cry” and “Did You See Her?” over and over again.

The weirdest songs are reserved for side B. “Living In a Jungle” comes at you with a sort of electronic jungle beat and some modulated vocals, almost more like a proto-electronica track, not something with a real lyrical structure. That’s followed by the surreal “Dreamtime” and it’s “ding dong” vocals, a song with a nighttime stickiness that makes me think of the feeling you get when you have too much Nyquil. “War Games” keeps it weird, but this time in a much more electro-poppy way, with a militaristic drum beat and carried along but very chip-tuney keyboards. “Heaven/Hell” and “Do Animals Believe In God?” keep the trend going and close out side B leaving me feeling slightly unsettled.

The opening three tracks of side A are definitely the winners here, but I still respect the oddness of the rest of Do Animals Believe In God? It seems to fit right into 1980, and while I’m not sure it’s going to have a lot of appeal to anyone who isn’t seriously into that period of post-punk, I found it to be pretty interesting and worthwhile.

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