Glass Animals return with their second album How To Be A Human Being.
Where debut albam ZABA was a dreamy journey through dark and murky sounds, ‘Life Itself’ kicks off the new album in a powerful way. The drumbeat takes centre stage and is reminiscent of music you might expect to hear from the Indian sub-continent, rather than from a four-piece band from Oxford. This is nothing new for Glass Animals, with lead vocalist and album producer Dave Bayley repeatedly finding unique sounds in the weirdest of places to fit his own ideas.
The dreamy feeling remains but there is a certain refinement present throughout the album. The murkiness is more tactfully used and more prominent melodies are allowed to carry the music. While the first two songs on the album seem to be poppy lead songs, Glass Animals’s character stays through subtle motifs and a careful attention to detail in the producing of the album while dealing with quite dark themes.
Later in the album we are shown just how much influence hip-hop has had on the band, ‘The Other Side of Paradise’ sounding like it wouldn’t be out of place in the 90s rap scene. ‘Mama’s Gun’ and ‘Cane Shugga’ both also have prominent hip-hop themes although it would be unfair to say that these are the only songs with these vibes.
Throughout the album, Glass Animals manage to excellently blend all their influences in to a unique album while keeping the almost-psychedelic feeling which excelled on their debut album.
‘Poplar St’ and ‘Agnes’ bring the journey to an emotional and unexpected close, throwing completely new ideas at the album. It is impressive how seamlessly the songs manage to mesh into a cohesive record while seemingly compromising very little on the desired sound.
Perhaps this success is due to the recurring themes throughout the album; themes which seem so grounded in real life because they are.
The album title is not random; it’s meticulously chosen, just like every note on this album. Every song tells the story of a new person, opening with the tale of a delusional waster in ‘Life Itself’ and closing with ‘Agnes’ the tragic tale of a friend lost to drug addiction. This element of realism which is ever-present help to ground the album and glue it together as a series of linked stories, rather than an erratic collection of songs.
It’s abundantly clear throughout that the album is meant to be listened to as an entirety and it’s a delight to do just that.