Glass Animals Revolutionize Sound in Latest Album
On their sophomore album, “How To Be A Human Being,” released this August, English indie rock group Glass Animals cultivates their distinctive mix of bubbly electronic beats and funky tribal drums, which they masterfully established on their debut album “ZABA.”
While their second album lacks the stunning originality of the first, the group avoided the so-called “sophomore slump” by focusing on human connection instead of nonsensical lyrics.
The album hones in on a diverse cast of characters, each represented on the album cover, which were inspired by stories that frontman David Bayley collected from people he encountered while on tour.
Glass Animals stays true to their sound with percussive, catchy Afro drum beats from the start of the album, with the clear standouts “Life Itself” and “Youth.”
The former song showcases the sound in its raw, electrifying percussion and focuses on a misfit character who is trapped in his own strange world.
“Youth,” one of my favorite songs on the album, really captures the nostalgia of childhood with its instrumentals and synths. It is emotional and touching, inspired by the story of a mother having to give up her child.
“Pork Soda” is one of the more groovy songs on the album. It mixes senseless lyrics (“Pineapples are in my head”) with yearning lamentations about the past (“Why can’t we laugh now like we did then?).
“Mama's Gun” sounds like a song that could be on the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack, from its reference to a "Cheshire grin" to the full-bodied orchestra, whose flute particularly gives it a light, magical feel.
Throughout, Bayley stays true to his smooth style of singing that has a way of washing over you.
The bluesy driving guitar line on “Take A Slice” is something we haven’t heard before.
The song starts as a slow, steady march, and just when it becomes monotonous, the band throws in quirky sound effects and distorted drums.
The guitar riff on the subsequent song, “Poplar St,” at first reminded me of the riff from “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The song’s steady rhythm perfectly compliments the catchy riff and makes for a great track.
While the album radiates energy and effervescent joy, it also has melancholic undertones at every turn.
On “The Other Side of Paradise”, Bayley laments about one of the characters, “I miss him don’t you blame me / that boy went stone cold crazy” while “Mama’s Gun” focuses on mental illness.
The album is airy and poppy on the whole, but provides a satisfying twinge of sadness towards the end. The beautiful closing song, “Agnes,” feels like a bittersweet goodbye, as it deals with losing someone to addiction: “You’re gone but you’re on my mind” and “Guess life is long / when soaked in sadness / on borrowed time.”
It’s a song that is perfect for pensively gazing out of a moving car window and it elegantly closes out an album that alternates between carefree happiness and mournful nostalgia.