In the hierarchy of songs that misuse grammar, ‘You’re A Animal’ has to rank somewhere fairly high, surely above Timbaland’s ‘‘. While he might not know which indefinite article to use, Boulet more than makes up for his grammatical deficiencies with the kind of enthusiasm you wouldn’t expect from a kid described by every bio everywhere as a ‘skate rat’. That characterisation, affirmed by Brother J at least when it comes to playing in a live setting, just doesn’t match up with the Boulet we get on record. This track comes from his second, released midway through last year and evidence that the linguistic tricks don’t stop til the break of dawn: ‘We Keep The Beat, Found The Sound, See The Need, Start The Heart’. The very self-interested arrogance that motivated the choice of an album name like that manifests itself in a song like this through sheer energy. Jonathan Boulet isn’t interested in your interest in anyone else. ‘You’re A Animal’ demands full, undivided concentration and delivers under it.
The song itself has been around since December 2010 when, in a blistering and succinct review, Stereogum called it ‘a supercharged rallying cry for nice guys‘. There is certainly some truth to the supercharged aspect. Running to this song earlier today, I legitimately think that there is nothing quite like Boulet, who played drums for Sydney band Parades in a past life, when he gets on the skins. Where Boulet first caught my attention with one of his first singles ‘Community Service Announcement‘ and its dreamy, round-like quality, augmented by underwater guitars, there is no denying the impact of a good drum beat from the man. On ‘You’re A Animal’ we get a drum beat and then some, as the cumulative effect of the percussion pushes the whole enterprise to the precipice of collapse and Boulet, seasoned professional he is even at only 24, pulls in the reins hard enough to keep it all resembling some approximation of ordered chaos. Traditional structure seems to be an afterthought with Boulet but when that ship is missed, he lets it sail and revels in the freedom to smash shit it leaves in its wake.
I’m not so taken with the idea of Boulet as a nice guy. Surely, in the way he strains to reach the high notes of ‘You will get, get what’s coming’ (1’35″) and is surrounded by unknown multitudes of disembodied harmonisers for the majority of his vocals, it’s hard to take his threats too seriously. But in its unrelenting quality, the intensity of the drums takes on a menacing character and there is a certain ‘smiling assassin’ element to Boulet’s seemingly friendly aggression. He’s like the Patrick Bateman of alternative rock. It is this sense of unease which underscores ‘You’re A Animal’ – starting with the misspelling, moving to the heart-attack pace of the rhythm section and graduating into the full-blown freakiness behind lyrics that are irresolutely spooky (and even more so for their sitting on the fence) – that makes it such an interesting listen. Boulet’s depth as a songwriter and recording artist allows you to listen on a superficial level for that urgent tom high, in an ordinary way for the clash between the tone of the lyrical content and its delivery or profoundly, trying to discern just what runs through Boulet’s brain, courses through his veins. That latter adventure now enthralls me, even over two years after its initial release and that, if I’m not mistaken, spells a complex track worth a listen.
Jonathan Boulet – You’re A Animal