Album review: Glass Animals - How To Be A Human Being
PUBLISHED: 10:30 31 August 2016
The Oxford upstarts bring more cool beats and heat to the party with their sophomore album.
‘People say the strangest s*** when they don’t think they’re ever gonna see you again.’ So says Glass Animals’ lead singer Dave Bayley, who gleaned inspiration for new tunes from secretly recording people while touring the band’s dazzling debut Zaba around the world.
Despite his post-work laptop tinkering translating into half a million record sales and 200million streams, he has managed to stay grounded for this follow-up.
The multi-layered structures, subtropical heat and Bayley’s smooth vocals remain intact, and while rants from cabbies and people at parties have been fed into the mixer, it’s suitably kept in check.
He fires out of the blocks with Life Itself which rumbles along on now-familiar tribal beats and a rainforest of synths and effects, a short killer chorus cutting through the aural undergrowth and ensuring the lyrical character’s reality (still lives with his mum and borrows ‘not quite enough’) doesn’t sink the mood.
It sets the scene for another serving of engagingly off-kilter, uplifting music with a pop heart that marries live instrumentation with synth effects and laid back beats.
There’s ‘80s console bleeps in the slinky, sleazy electro-R&B of Season 2 Episode 3 - played out as an errant lover is slapped down - plenty of F-bombs and indignation amidst the frazzled house-party vibe of Pork Soda.
Youth could soundtrack a teen’s first summer holiday with mates as easily as triggering rose-tinted memories of the same from a veteran of Nappy Valley, and the skittering drum machine and slinky synth riff of Cane Shuga is as sweet as it is zesty.
The character studies generally skewer the subjects, with the coolly smug Take A Slice (‘Sitting pretty in the prime of life/I’m so tasty and the price is right’) taking the prize - winning bonus points for its psychedelic R&B-funk that pits treated electric guitar against tides of brass.
Confident, cool and bold, if this truly is a scrapbook of the time the Oxford four-piece have spent on the road, they must’ve had a grand ol’ time.