Eskimo is a Concept Album about the day in the life of northern Native American cultures (although the band didn't study anything on Inuit culture). Unlike most Concept Albums, Eskimo is unique in that all of the songs are made up of various chanting (often in a made up language), sound effects, and percussion instruments, so instead of songs telling a story, it's more akin to soundscapes telling a very loose story with many of the details being interpreted by the listener (the liner notes can also help here). The album cover is also the first time the band appeared in their iconic 4 Eyeballs wearing suits.
Upon release, it was hailed by critics, and to this day is still considered one of The Residents' best. It was also released with a companion piece, Diskomo, which had bits and pieces from Eskimo put into disco songs.
- "The Walrus Hunt" (4:01)
- "Birth" (4:33)
- "Arctic Hysteria" (5:57)
- "The Angry Angakok" (5:20)
- "A Spirit Steals a Child" (8:44)
- "The Festival of Death" (10:26)
"A Spirit Tropes A Child":
- A Day in the Life: Of a group of Inuits.
- A Death in the Limelight: A newborn Eskimo sadly perishes in a matter of minutes of being born, due to the harsh nature of Eskimo Land.
- African Chant: Except it's Eskimo chanting. And it's all through out the album.
- Alliterative Title: "The Angry Angakok."
- All There in the Manual: The songs are explained in liner notes for the album.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Very cynically Played for Laughs—the lyrics range from broken English in extremely heavy fake accents, to random advertising slogans, to complete and utter gibberish.
- Ambient: The whole album, due to its reliance on only sound effects, fake Eskimo chanting, and percussion instruments.
- Bookends: The album begins and closes with the sound of a wind machine.
- Concept Album: The entire story takes place at the North Pole.
- Crapsack World: Female babies are killed at birth, the six-month winter nights drive people to insanity, and children frequently go missing.
- Crowd Panic: In "A Spirit Steals a Child," when the village is told that a newborn has gone missing (by its mother), the whole village panics.
- Ending Memorial Service: The Festival of Death, held for an Eskimo child.
- Endless Winter: It is Eskimo Land, after all. It certainly sounds like it with harsh winds always blowing.
- Epic Rocking: All tracks are longer than four minutes, with the 8:44 A Spirit Steals a Child and the 10:26 The Festival of Death being the longest.
- Avant-garde Music: However, "Rocking" is too strong of a word for this album, as the songs constantly gain and lose any form of structure. Instead, the music is more like sounds of Eskimo Land with various Fake Eskimo chants, fake Eskimo conversations, percussion instruments, and sound effects depicting the environment and animals there.
- Eskimo Land: A stereotypical version of the country is presented through sound effects and Eskimo chanting.
- Face on the Cover: The band members are featured on the album cover in their signature costumes.
- Faceless Eye: On the album cover.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: "Birth" is about a ritual murder of a female baby Eskimo.
- Fluent In Gibberish: Much of the Eskimo "language" is just gibberish.
- Guttural Growler: A deep Eskimo voice is imitated in "Birth."
- Harsh Vocals: The singing Resident takes his usual approach Up to Eleven here, by breathing in as he speaks.
- Hell Is That Noise: Some of the sound effects are very loud and distorted, and at first you might not tell what they are, or are supposed to be.
- Also, certain parts of the song seem confusing due to the way they're played.
- Iconic Outfit: The four eyeballs in suits and top hats first appear on this albums cover art.
- Instrumentals: There is singing on this album, but few actual intelligible lyrics.
- Language Equals Thought: The Urban Legend that Eskimos have 40 varieties for the word "snow" is repeated in the liner notes.
- Life Will Kill You: Happens to a young Inuit child that dies out in the cold.
- Location Song: The entire album takes place at a fantasy version of the North Pole.
- Minimalism: All of the album contains sound effects, fake Eskimo chanting, and percussion instruments. There are very few instruments used outside of that, and even fewer that are meant to act like an actual instrument (The plucked instrument in Arctic Hysteria, the xylophone-like instrument in A Spirit Steals a Child, and the bass and woodwind instruments in The Festival of Death).
- Nature Spirit: Inverted with A Spirit Steals a Child. Of course it's not really a spirit, it's just the harsh winter.
- Noisy Nature: Winds constantly blowing, strange noises that emanate across the soundscape, Eskimo noises, and animal noises are all common through out the album.
- One-Word Title: "Birth."
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The village elder is the master of the ceremonies (Birth specifically) and tells his people to go look for the lost child in A Spirit Steals a Child.
- Sanity Slippage Song: The track "Arctic Hysteria" is described in the liner notes as "a phenomenon that occurs in the dead of winter primarily to women. The weeks of darkness and general sensory deprivation lead to the eventual temporary loss of a firm touch with reality."
- Screaming Birth: "Birth," where a baby is born screaming.
- Shout-Out: Most of the identifiable lyrics (especially in the last few tracks) consist of advertising slogans, sports cheers, and lyrics to more popular songs from that era.
- Special Guest: Don Preston (a former Mother of Invention) plays synthesizer on this album.
- Some of the drumming here is also played by Chris Cutler of Henry Cow.
- Stock Sound Effects: "The Walrus Hunt" makes use of a wind machine to create snow storm sounds and splashing water to imitate an Eskimo in a kayak. The walrus, husky, and seal sounds are obviously imitated by the band members. A man walking in snow is also mimicked in the studio.
- Time Marches On: Nowadays the word "Eskimo" is no longer considered to be politically correct.
- Wham Line: In "The Festival of Death," they start chanting "Coca-Cola Adds Life!"
- World Music: The band imitates traditional music by the Inuit culture.