Album Review: Glass Animals – How To Be A Human Being
The English indie rock band hailing from Oxford, Glass Animals, have released their second studio album, How To Be A Human Being, much to the delight of our ears.
While the band members; Dave Bayley (lead vocals, guitar and tambourine), Drew MacFarlane (guitar, keys and backing vocals), Edmund Irwin-Singer (bass, keys and backing vocals), Joe Seaward (Drums); toured internationally- playing at festivals such as Glastonbury, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Falls- they kept a sort of ‘scrapbook’ of memories, encounters and recordings of stranger’s conversations. They made a conscious effort to note the kind of sonder* we all take for granted in our daily lives. Dave was quite journalistic in documenting all their experiences, influencing the story and even characters of the album.
Glass Animals have a unique sound and, with it, paint a dream like world. The first single and opening track of the album, Life Itself, starts with a whimsical crescendo of glimmering sound. It contains a blend of exotic percussion, synth and alluring vocals in an exciting textural interplay. It is just a taste of the imaginative combination of musical elements Glass Animals explores throughout How To Be A Human Being. Youth begins with a fluttering motivic electronica intro that dissipates when the vocals start. This fluttering effect becomes more captivating in its recapitulation in the chorus when percussion and a flute is added to the mix.
Season 2 Episode 3 starts with an endearing vocal harmony and melody, then swiftly moves into a new age R’nB feel. The 8 bit sounding utterances are like candy for your ears. Hip Hop has a great influence on Glass Animals sound as Dave listened to it a lot growing up in Texas. Cane Shuga is a track in which they use a typical Hip Hop beat. It is a stripped back track containing only a few layers, but the rhythms, melodies and their counters produce a satisfyingly full sound. Another feature in How To Be A Human Being that is most likely influenced by Hip Hop albums is the use of a skit. [Premade Sandwiches] is a break in the album in which a robotic voice recites the mundane things we humans have to do and how we act almost drone like. It is also somewhat reminiscent of Radiohead’s Fitter Happier from their OK Computer album.
They obviously kept live performance and crowd interaction in mind when creating material for this album. A crowd would certainly get a thrill joining in with the ‘woofs’ in The Other Side Of Paradise, and “Bye bye baby blue…” is a satisfying melody to sing. The album ends with the triumphant and anthemic Anges.
There are so many subtleties in the construction or moments of contrast in their songs that makes you excited to your core as you listen to How To Be A Human Being. Glass Animals are brilliant musicians and have produced an outstanding album. It is sure to influence generations of artists to come.
*Sonder is the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.