The Residents

Animal Lover (Mute)

For avant-gardists, the Residents sure are stuck in a pretty deep artistic rut. The only thing differentiating the Eyeball Kids' latest release from what's come before it is technology. Elsewhere, the singsong melodies and nursery-rhyme-style lyrics remain unchanged.

Of course, the band's obsessions do shift from album to album. This time, they're thinking about the animal kingdom a lot. At least, that's what the press kit says: Apparently, the rhythm tracks on Animal Lover were largely constructed from samples of the mating sounds of insects, frogs, whales, and people.

Can you tell? Not really. The primitive drum-machine rhythms, dissonant keyboard lines, and bursts of staticky guitar that make up tracks like "Mr. Bee's Bumble," "Ingrid's Oily Tongue," and "The Monkey Man" are standard-issue Residents -- just like the redneck lead vocals and the angelic female backup singers. Like their last album, Demons Dance Alone, Animal Lover will probably blossom onstage. As a stand-alone CD, though, it's unlikely to captivate anyone not already a diehard.