The new Glass Animals album is, as the kids say these days, “amazeballs”. It is a physical and mental feat to listen to any of the 11 tracks on “How To Be A Human Being” without breaking out into a plethora of embarrassing dance moves.
Glass Animals is a band from Oxford, England who have been categorized as creating music in the “alternative rock” genre. “How To Be A Human Being” is the group’s second album, following their 2014 debut album, “Zaba.” The songs are written and sung by Dave Bayley with Edmund Irwin-Singer on the bass, Joe Seaward on the drums, and Drew MacFarlane on the guitar.
The album cover of “How To Be A Human Being” is a photo of a group of eleven eclectic human beings in an otherwise completely white room. The perplexing photo is framed in a jumble of orange, teal, yellow, and red pixels, with “How to be a Human Being” scrawled at the bottom.
The human beings within the frame range from an oiled and nearly nude businessman in an orange speedo checking his 1980’s cell phone to a three year old sitting atop a plastic lowrider tricycle. In regarding the human beings in this photo, one is intrigued to know their names, their stories, and the strange events that must have ensued to get all of them in the same room. One can’t help but wonder if each of the eleven humans correspond to each of the eleven tracks, and if their story as a whole is explained by the album as a cohesive piece of art.
The album–and story– opens with a groovy drum beat accompanied by a simple tambourine in “Life Itself”, a song whose lyrics inspire images of a twenty-something man living in his mother’s basement and stealing her money while simultaneously hearing that he is “gonna be a superstar” from his father. The interesting and obscure lyrical genius of lead singer, Dave Bayley, is apparent in “Youth” as Bayley brags “my girl eats mayonnaise from a jar as she’s getting blazed”.
There is sadness hiding amidst the repetition of “pineapples are in my head” in “pork soda,” and authenticity in the guitar riff and story of a “free falling love addict” in Poplar St. [Premade Sandwiches] is arguably the strangest and most thought provoking songs on the album. To whom of the eleven humans on the album art do these whirlwind of electronic murmurings belong? Do they describe the inner workings of the mind of the striking woman in a white crop top? Or do they perhaps detail the average day of the overweight woman wearing a pink housecoat and perched upon the seat of a walker?
These questions are one of the most wonderful parts of this complex piece of art. The songs are beautifully and intentionally composed, but it is also such a unique pleasure to sit enveloped in the music and dream about the human beings behind the intricate stories. It is such an ethereal experience to listen to the mysterious tones and melodies of Glass Animal’s incredible new album and wonder what it means to be a human being.