Glass Animals released their second album, How to be a Human Being, as a follow up to 2014’s ZABA. The album was released on the August 26th 2016, on Caroline Records, and features the singles ‘Life Itself’, ‘Youth’ and ‘Season 2 Episode 3’.
The album opens up with the exuberant ‘Life Itself’, a song with drum beats reminiscent of those from the other side of the world, futuristic synths and unbelievably humorous and catchy lyrics- “She said I look fat, but I look fantastic”. It’s a huge summer anthem- one which I’ve had on repeat- and it presents itself with funny, yet tragic, characters, many of whom make up the album.
‘Youth’ is a sad song, sung from the perspective of a parent to a child. Dave Bayley (lead singer) said the song was “inspired by a devastating story [he] had heard from a stranger about her song” (to NPR).
I love the ‘video game’ feel of ‘Season 2 Episode 3’, with its video game sound effect samples, which remind me of something from Super Mario Bros. There are references to cartoons in there too, like Adventure Time. Again, it’s a song filled with many a hilarious and interesting lyric, this time about a lazy female character- “My girl eats mayonnaise from a jar whilst she’s getting blazed”.
‘Pork Soda’, ‘Cane Shuga’ and ‘The Otherside of Paradise’ continue this fascinating story filled with characters. It’s very easy to listen to, whilst still being unique and interesting.
‘[Premade Sandwiches]’ is 36 seconds of distorted speech. When you look at the lyrics, it’s an ‘interlude’, if you will, of post-modern references, almost poetically put together. The lyrics speak the truth and heartache of modern life- I suppose it’s how, really, human beings are now. There’s references to a “superfood” obsessed country, McDonalds (“People standing in line to buy whatever the McFuck they might want to shove down their foodpipes tonight”), plenty of emphasis and repetition of “people standing in line” and the concept of having to have “new” things. I like it; it’s clever.
The album closes with ‘Agnes’, a slower tempo song. The song is written about Agnes, another character we meet in the album. It’s a beautiful, yet tragically sad, song which outlines watching a friend succumb to drugs and not really being able to help or intervene. It’s an incredible song, which is allegedly Dave Bayley’s favourite on the album- I can definitely see why. It’s a poignant closer to the album, but it leaves a lasting impression on the listener.
It’s important to talk about the album artwork here. The album cover features 11 figures, characters even, each relating to a song. The characters look somewhat similar in arrangement to a dysfunctional family photo and I like the idea that they are the cast of the album- all inspired by stories told and heard on the road.
Overall, I love the album and the stories behind it. I think that it’s a brilliant album full of huge hits and bittersweet songs, tragic tales and upbeat, oriental anthems. The band are on tour of the UK in October this year and again early in 2017.