There's always room in everyone's palette for something exotic. Glass Animals is the that refreshing sound we all need and look for. Their blend of indie alternative goodness and exotic flavors is true ear candy.
There is something very knowing in the sound of the band's new record, How To Be A Human Being. It feels risky and put together by the wits of masters of music. Surprisingly, this album is the band's sophomore release! It follows 2014's eclectic Zaba, a critically acclaimed album that wasn't afraid to be imperfect. The prior effort was inspired by the likes of Kanye West and Nina Simone, and became an outlet for the band's members to do something wild and unpredictable. Vocalist Dave Bayley explained how it all came together: "I used to be really into super-clean, no flaws production," he claimed, "but now I like the context and soul that mistakes, chopped samples, and swirly white amp-noises give you.... We definitely were a bit self-conscious, we were once afraid to do something bold. Now when we re together in the studio we don t worry about those things. In fact, we don t worry about anything at all..."
The success of the prior album seemed to not hold back the development of How To Be A Human Being. What you must know, though, is that if you're looking for a follow up that embodies with Zaba had, you may not be happy when listening to this record in that aspect. It's going to impossible to come out of this album feeling unhappy, though. You may not get what you're looking for, but you'll find something even better than what you expect.
Glass Animals opt to express what they believe on the inside. Their process has never been to go in with an idea and to come out with that brainchild. Their process is wildly expressive and unique to their collective minds at that point in time. Human Being is almost like the child of Zaba, still. With the success of the former, they went around the world, touring in support of it. Along they way, they heard stories upon stories from the people they perform for. Those stories are the what built Human Being.
The backstory is made clear by the album's diversity. Right from the beginning you have a banger with 'Life Itself', featuring Indian percussion and fantastic melodies and vocals that build to a grand and explosive ending - a welcoming to the insane party of the record. 'Youth' follows up with dreamy vocals and a dinky instrumental, and singing about the joys of being young and in love.
The best thing about this album is how much groove it has. 'Pork Soda' feels like hip-hop fell into a molten pot of indie flair. It has a lot of swagger and a certain confidence about it. I don't know. It's just pure fun. That's what's most of this album is like. It's just a feel good, relatable experience to listen to and connect with. 'Mama's Gun' is much the same as the former, but this one has some solid flute action going on that gives it that extra touch. 'Poplar St' also has a lot of swagger to it, but also a lot of mystery. It feels like a bluesier version of Radiohead's '2 + 2 = 5'. It's creepy but all-too knowing in its mystery. Don't even get me started about the brass sounding guitar at the end in 'Take A Slice'. I can't even tell if it's guitar or trumpet - but I don't really care. It sounds awesome and frantically insane. This album has it all.
The second half of the record has some songs that are very electronic-oriented. The low backing vocals from 'Mama's Gun' return in songs like 'The Other Side Of Paradise', which has an instrumental that builds with electronic layers. The lyrics are very reprimanding, might I add: "Bye bye baby blue / I wish you could see the wicked truth / Caught up in a rush it's killing you / Screaming at the sun you blow into." It's a pretty big track, both instrumental and as far as meaning is taken. 'Cane Shuga' is led by a stair-stepping synth and a groovy beat, the vocals effected and metallic. The song is a little odd, but still infectious. It contains an ending that is a bit strange, spoken word glitching out. A similar sketch scene happens at the beginning of 'Take A Slice' and that's also pretty awkward. But the album's awkward moments aren't enough to bring down it's magnificent whole. The album ends on 'Agnes' with its slow wave of noise slowly building up in a sort of bittersweet ending. It sounds upbeat and happy, but also definitively a farewell. It's a song you'd play as you drive out of your hometown for the last time when you're going to college or to start your own life. It has all the qualities of a send off, as well as a welcome. It's like a bright look into the future. A perfect send off for an album that sets the future for this band.
Glass Animals is something else. There's not really anyone else who sounds quite like them, or as diverse. They're unique musicians and even more unique as people. How To Be A Human Being is a brilliant album, from its backstory to its execution. You can never really predict this band; there's not one way you can describe them as. We don't know what their future holds, and neither do they. That's the beauty of their music; it's ever evolving. The mystery will reveal it's next clue in the future, but How To Be A Human Being is enough to last us a life time.
Favorite Tracks: Life Itself, Agnes, Mama's Gun
Least Favorite Tracks: Cane Shuga, Take A Slice
Rating: 87 / 100