Like his dad you know that he's had
Animal nitrate in mind
Oh in your council home he jumped on your bones
Now you're taking it time after time

Oh, what turns you on, oh?
Now he has gone
Oh, what turns you on, oh?
Now your animal's gone

Well he said he'd show you his bed
And the delights of the chemical smile
So in your broken home he broke all your bones
Now you're taking it time after time

Oh, what turns you on, oh?
Now he has gone
Oh, what turns you on, oh?
Now your animal's gone

What does it take to turn you on, oh?
Now he has gone
Now you're over twenty-one, oh
Now your animal's gone

Animal, he was animal, an animal, oh
Animal, he was animal, an animal, oh
Animal, animal, oh
He's just an animal, an animal oh
Animal, he was animal
He's just an animal, an animal oh
Animal, he was animal
He's just an animal, an animal oh


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

Animal Nitrate Lyrics as written by Bernard Butler Brett Anderson

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Animal Nitrate song meanings
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42 Comments

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  • +5
    General Comment

    I've always thought this was about a gay relationship between an older man and an under-age man gone bad. Amyl nitrate, "over 21" etc all point to this. I shouldn't have said it was about being raped by his dad though - that line could just as easily mean that his father suspects that he's gay and (being a Suede song) thinks it sordid.

    Like all good songs though, this could mean anything to anyone and is, basically, about the more sordid aspects of working class life.

    pantomimehorseon July 19, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    I absolutely LOVED this when I was 13 or 14, I thought it was sooo sexy. Oh, it turned me on, oh oh oh, etc. 15 or so years later though, and actually reading/comprehending the lyrics... jesus.

    artsluton July 31, 2009   Link
  • +4
    Song Meaning

    Brett Anderson wrote a lot of songs about Justine Frischmann (his ex-girlfriend who went off with Blur's Damon Albarn) but he tended to change the lyrics to make it sound like he is singing about a homosexual experience. This was probably to try and make it less obvious that was writing about Frischmann but also to emphasise his Bowie-influenced adrogyny, which helped give him more of an identity over other artists.

    pianomannickon April 16, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    The line "Now you're over 21?" is significant in that, at the time of writing, it was the age of consent for gay male sex in the UK. So, it's largely about underage gay sex. Amyl Nitrate - poppers? Foul stuff, makes your ears go red and gives you a headache..

    Davroson June 18, 2003   Link
  • +3
    My Opinion

    I used to think its the only good song of them! I was really obssesed with it for about a month and thoughet it was somthing blur about sexuallity and being in a gay relationship, but then I red one of the interpetetion here said brett himself ment for a specific case of this father abused his kid who adventually couldn't get turned on by anyone else.. sadly, this interpetation ruined all my feelings for this amazing song! wish I'd never read it :(

    SheWason June 29, 2010   Link
  • +3
    Song Meaning

    So many of you are not getting the point. This is not about abuse, but aftermath. The predator/animal is gone, and if you've been in that situation, the hard question is "what turns you on?" (now) and the irony is that you're no longer wanted, but you're not supposed to like being left alone. Something is supposed to turn you on, but it doesn't.

    wick6on December 31, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Ups! sorry, I posted in the wrong song, my interpretation is for ''animal lover''

    Cy4nideon August 10, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This song's about rolls people take in sexual relationships. Some people discover they are submissive with certain partners and visa-versa.... The loss of the dominant partner can leave the more submissive party needing crueler and crueler partners to continue to feed their urge. The pattern formed by some abuse victims is definitley in there as well. It could easily be talking about a guy who was abused as child by the father or father figure and grew up to seek out abusive sexual partners.

    Dark and divine stuff from Brett and the boys.

    lateleighon December 15, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Well the title refers to amyl nitrate, which is not really used as a drug, the one used as a "popper" is the amyl nitrite. But; as we have Brett's accent; he pronounces the "a" in nitrate pretty much like an "i", so there we go with the popper theory.

    Well, here's what Brett said himself.

    Brett Anderson explained the story behind the song to NME May 11, 2013: "The idea for 'Animal Nitrate' came when I was going through a period when drugs were taking the place of people. Sex was just a hollow, vacuous thing which was made full and three-dimensional by the fact that I was taking a huge amount of drugs. It wasn't actually anything to do with amyl nitrate, it was other sorts of drugs - coke, ecstasy. My mind was in a stormy period, I was going quite insane. "It definitely has a veneer (of gay sex) but there's a very sad undertone," he added. "People think about gay sex and never really think about it romantically. They see sadness, romance and loss as purely a hetrosexual thing. There's a definite domestic violence feel to 'Animal Nitrate.' But behind that there's a real sadness."

    So yeah.

    Dad raping his son, drugs, gay sex (like his dad you know that he's had animal nitrate in mind / now you're over 21), dad beating his son. Voilà.

    chantal103on June 29, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song is about the drug amyl nitrate, aka butyl or isobutyl nitrate in the States, a drug available at "head shops" and used as an inhalant, commonly by the male gay community-- think of laughing gas that lasts for a minute (I read that somewhere!! I swear!!)

    jenwill2on May 01, 2002   Link

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Well, in my opinion this song is about being a young & maybe a little naive &/or introverted girl and finding yourself loving a man who is at first very charming, carefree & outgoing, and seems at first to be without limits, as in "There was a time you opened up every doorway you didn't mind if everything wasn't your way" then that man starts to gradually become more introverted & shows their more possessive/obsessive side to you as the relationship progresses, even while they keep up the appearance of being carefree & outgoing to everyone else, "Don't pull away that goes against what you told me I look in your eyes I realize what you've sold me is love in a vacuum" so you confront them about the way they're acting and of course they deny it, "I think you've changed but you insist that that's not true" quite possibly they are an addict of some sort, my guess would be cocaine, &/or showing very obsessive behavior towards you (early on in the video for this song we see the man hanging a picture up, it is a very large portrait of Aimee & it is prominently displayed in his/their apartment for the duration of the song), thus their "love in a vacuum", "You look so strange, so distant that you're hardly you Now I can see how you have been acting different You say it's me but I know that it isn't it's love in a vacuum" but still you are in love with them and don't want to leave them and you know that they are truly in love with you and they don't want you to leave them either, maybe they are convinced you can save them from themself, maybe they are so broken that the possibility of an overdose &/or suicide attempt is very real and you want to get through to them that their behavior not only dangerous but it is also just pissing you off and if they don't wise up they run the risk of loosing you, as in the lines "You will be lonely if you leave me alone", so you want to save them but can't get through to them due to the addiction &/or emotional problems they have, "Love in a vacuum and that's not enough love in a vacuum You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way You will be lonely if you leave me alone You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way it's just not enough" you want them to understand that the love they are giving you is not enough when it is filtered through the vacuum of their drug addiction &/or emotional impairment, "You will be lonely you'll be the only one who feels this way it's just not enough and just wait you will be lonely Love in a vacuum Love in a vacuum and that's not enough Love in a vacuum". 'Love In A Vacuum' for me is a hauntingly truthful acute argument on the loneliness of obsession and almost inevitable loss of love that follows people who are broken in some way or another; the obsessives, the coke heads, the drunks, addicts or the just-plain-old emotionally broken; a razor sharp, lyrically driven, deceptively poppy, yet ultimately-depressing-in-the-best-way song. Quintessential Aimee Mann.