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Mace & Crown | July 27, 2017

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Glass Animals Get Weird With ‘How to Be a Human Being’

Lindsey Lanham
Staff Writer

Indie-rockers Glass Animals have graduated from their muted psychedelic sound of “Zaba” to a more refined atmosphere. Coming together to create something personable and interesting, the band has taken a step up from their already well-developed sound.

Rather than focusing on obscure topics, Glass Animals now take on the challenge of humanity. “How to Be a Human Being” is a different kind of concept album. Lead singer and songwriter David Bayley created individual characters for each song, and each character gets their own story – some of the characters even have their own website.

Glass Animals formed in Oxford, England in 2012, beginning with longtime friends Dave Bayley (lead vocals) and Joe Seaward (drums). Their first EP, “Leaflings,” was released in 2012. From there, Glass Animals has grown and matured with their sound. “How to Be a Human Being,” which was released in August 2016, has shown the depth the band can achieve through their music.

While “Zaba” was a bit shy, “How to Be a Human Being” brings the quirky music combinations to the forefront of the song rather than being muted and distant. This is exemplified right off the bat with the first track, “Life Itself.” This character is the overconfident gamer that still lives with his mom, and is one of the happier songs on the album. The character feels good about himself, and lyrics such as, “She said I look fat but I look fantastic,” exemplify his confidence.

Not all songs are as positive as “Life Itself,” though. “Agnes,” the closing track, is easily the saddest song on the album. The character succumbs to drug abuse and the lyrics even suggests she killed herself.

“This time you overdid the liquor / This time you pulled the f—in’ trigger,” Bayley sings. The song closes with the line, “I’m lost but I don’t know why,” which is just remarkably sad because many of us have an Agnes in our lives.

“Pork Soda,” a more upbeat track, is by no means happy. The song starts off with the kitschy line, “Pineapples are in my head / Got nobody ‘cause I’m brain-dead.” In an interview with Paste Magazine, Bayley explained the line.

“I heard a homeless man talking to someone once and say ‘pineapples are in my head.’ In retrospect, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t actually those words, but I thought it was at the time, and it kind of stuck with me.”

Featuring excerpts from street conversations and a bass line that could kill, “Pork Soda” features relatable lyrics.

Bayley sings, “Why can’t we laugh now like we did then? / How come I see you and ache instead?” Though the track is the most mainstream of “How to Be a Human Being,” it doesn’t take away from its lovable quirkiness.

“Premade Sandwiches” is a “Black Mirror”-esque spoken interlude. The track challenges capitalism and consumerism in the modern age. Bayley even uses the word “McF—” to make his point clearer. The song ends with the lines, “People complaining about standing in line / People standing in line and they don’t even know why” to really drive the point home.

“Take a Slice” and “Mama’s Gun” are just as well developed. Bayley doesn’t hold back on any track, giving each character the attention they deserve. “The Other Side of Paradise” is musically the most entertaining on the album with restless chords and a funky beat.

“Poplar St.” is about as rock as Glass Animals gets on the record. The opening guitar riff resembles something close to something from Red Hot Chili Peppers. The track talks about a young boy and his relationship with a lust-filled woman on his street.

“How to Be a Human Being” is a uniquely conceptual album. Each song is its own person. “Season 2, Episode 3,” is the apathetic stoner chick everyone adores, and “Take a Slice” is a bit sleazier. The listener can relate with each track because everyone knows someone who fits into each character description. Glass Animals’ “How to Be a Human Being” is the perfect representation of humanity and creativity.

Notable tracks – “Life Itself,” “Pork Soda,” “The Other Side of Paradise” and “Poplar St.”

Glass Animals will be playing at The NorVa Wednesday, June 14.