New Glass Animals album


The genre-bending R&B quartet Glass Animals have finally released their sophomore album, “How to be a Human Being,” on Aug. 26, almost unnoticed. Glass Animals was formed in 2012 in Oxford, England by four friends who met during secondary school. Two years ago they released their debut album, “Zaba,” featuring “Gooey” and “Toes,” in June 2014 and immediately established a following of devoted fans throughout the UK and the rest of the world. Their largest show to date took place last year at Lollapalooza in Berlin.

“Zaba” was Glass Animals’ first huge step into the music scene and became the band’s defining sound. The album was very monotonous, with all the songs being hit-or-miss with listeners. It only appealed to a small niche of music lovers, which creates very dedicated fans within the niche but also turns the majority of people off. The album was a major success for the band, but left many listeners with a desire for more diversity within their music.

Their new album fills the void left by “Zaba” with the introduction of a variety of new musical techniques and interesting melodies. By following this changing path, Glass Animals have been criticized by fans for altering their unique sound, but the transformation of their music has opened the band up to new genres and an expanded audience. Most of their following has originated from music festivals around the world, including Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza.

I have been listening to this album on repeat since Friday evening and each listen brings with it new connections and a new experience. Each track has a unique sound to it that connects with the rest of the album through the song’s raw melodies. On the surface, the songs barely correlate. Each song has a distinctive story, but once the superficial layers of the songs are stripped away, the defining sound that dominated “Zaba” can be heard throughout album.

Each song on “How to be a Human Being” tells a story centered on an individual’s life, some true and some exaggerated. Each of the eleven characters, one for each song on the album, are featured on the album cover and are the focus of each music video. The stories depict characters from all walks of life going through an emotionally challenging situation, which ultimately ties in with the album title by showing what it means to be a part of the human race.

Lyrically, many of the songs feel like a cluster of vague phrases that barely correlate with one another such as “My girl eats mayonnaise from a jar while she’s gettin’ blazed” or “Pineapples are in my head.” Although these lyrics seem nonsensical, they all connect into the greater meaning of each story and into the larger theme of the album. The stories in the album are set up like a book full of short stories connected by a similar theme.

The track which stood out the most to me on this album is “The Other Side Of Paradise,” which describes the loss of humanity and how that can affect others. The song follows the life of a young girl whose boyfriend leaves her to chase fame and riches. As he gains fame, no matter how hard this girl tries to keep him in reality, he loses himself and the song comes to a close with the phrase “the bullet hit but maybe not . . . it hits my head and I feel numb.”

The lyrics of this track were the part that really confirmed my appreciation for the song, but they weren’t the part that drew me in. What stood out the most my first time listening to “The Other Side Of Paradise” was the beat during the chorus. The song has a smooth flow to it until the chorus begins and breaks and rests are introduced to the song. This shift in musical style drew my attention right away and made me listen further into what the song was trying to say.

“Season 2, Episode 3” was another song that stole my attention. This song features a lot of odd little video game noises mixed with sweet sounding backing vocals which create a weird, interesting mood. To make it even more interesting, the song is extremely relatable because it’s vague enough to follow the story of a generalized character instead of a specific person.

Within the lyrics of “Season 2 Episode 3,” there are multiple references to TV shows, such as the title itself. It’s the third song on the second album produced by Glass Animals, so they wrote it as if the song was an episode in the band’s series. Another reference to a television show is found in the lines “Lazy, you’re lyin’ on your belly with a super porp cola.” Super porp cola is a reference to a beverage from the cartoon show Adventure Time.

Just about every song on the album is packed full of great lyrics with the exception of “Cane Shuga.” It contains only two verses, four lines each, followed by a repetitive chorus. This track tells the short story of a cocaine addict losing his significant other because he is too caught up in his drugs. Although this song is lacking in lyrics, it contains one of my favorite beats in the entire album.

“How to be a Human Being” shows the true talents of Glass Animals and expands their music style past the point reached by “Zaba.” The constant musical changes make it so you can’t judge the album based upon a single song. This makes the album even more fascinating and it draws my interest every time I hear it, whether it’s the first time or the thirtieth.