REVIEW: GLASS ANIMALS - HOW TO BE A HUMAN
Glass Animals emerged onto the scene in 2012, subsequently releasing their debut ZABA in 2014. With hip-hop influences, combined with R&B style and electronica, they struck a chord and appealed to a wide range of tastes. They felt reminiscent of Alt-J, whilst simultaneously being a breath of fresh air. With this praise sealed firmly in place, ZABA sold half a million records, a mean feat for such a new band.
Their sophomore album How To Be A Human Being develops from these solid foundations, enhancing them with further complex rhythms and textures. Animals broaden their horizons, taking on world drumming styles, reaching fully-fledged electro-pop in places yet still remaining lyrically thought provoking. But the main intrigue of this album is its concept: perspectives.
Vocalist Dave Bayley cultivated each track as a separate fragment, each telling a different story of, or profiling a character he’s created. Each of these characters is originally derived from stories Bayley had heard and recorded on his phone within the past few years, from strangers the band had met on the road. Taxi drivers, fans, really anybody. A former neuroscientist, Bayley engrossed himself in creating character studies to really nurture these stories he’d heard into something special. This all culminates in an aural masterpiece ingrained with moments that can be euphoric, tragic, humorous or sleazy.
This heartwarming concept ultimately results in a feel-good, yet thought-provoking album designed to make you reflect a little afterwards. In each listen you discover something new, another angle or another quirky lyric. It really is hard to ignore lyricism such as “My girl eats mayonnaise from a jar when she’s gettin’ blazed” from Season 2 Episode 3. Although this album tackles a few more cantankerous issues such as commercialism in the monologue [Premade Sandwiches], the underlying themes of acceptance, diversity and compassion all shine through.
Finishing on "Agnes", possibly one of the saddest yet still absolutely anthemic songs you’ll ever hear, it’s truly a story of devastating loss. It feels like a reluctant finish, a goodbye as it plays out- much as the band themselves have stated, saying they knew it was an ending “as soon as they heard it.”
Abandon your concepts of Stranger Danger, as this seems to be a new direct pathway to crafting a masterpiece.