Recs & Reviews

Review: ‘How To Be a Human Being’ by Glass Animals Is a Collection of Diverse, Eclectic Tales

Our favorite peanut butter vibin’, Oxford rockin’ boys are back – and better than ever.

tumblr_niyomqpvNA1rsv47uo1_500.gifRemember them?

Inspired by over-sharers everywhere, Glass Animals’ “How to be a Human Being” tells the story of imperfect strangers the band has encountered over the past few years.

Glass Animals’ sophomore album was released on August 26, 2016 and has delighted both new and old fans alike. “How to Be” is vastly unique from any other listening experience I’ve ever had before – in the best way possible. This album is an immersive storytelling experience, filled with jungle beats, kooky metaphors and a whole lot of groove.

What makes it so unique its storytelling techniques and different voices. Each track is told from perspectives of fictional characters formulated from the band’s imagination and strangers the band has met on their last couple years of international touring. The characters range from a drug addicted cab driver to a vampiric seductress.

Each character and their respective vignette, quirks and backstories were wrapped into a synthetic, electric cocoon, developed in the studio, and are now flying off into the anticipating ears of fans across the globe.

With many catchy dance music tracks, it’s easy to overlook the complexity and depth of the lyrics. However, standout phrases and words in “How To Be” make dissecting this lyrical masterpiece nearly inevitable.

 

“I always try to leave enough space for people to make their own interpretations. For me, that’s more interesting than having a definitive ‘correct’ explanation.”

– Dave Bayley, lead singer

 

Leaving the analysis up to their fans, I took it upon myself to note my favorite lyrics, musical elements and underlying themes of some of my favorite tracks on the album…

(PS – I pulled some images from the band’s Tumblr page they made to pair with each track on the album. Super cool Tumblr concept, right? @otherbands, catch on, please.)

Life Itself

The first track on the album is filled with Glass Animals’ classic jungle beats, driven by a strong beat and catchy refrain and hook. Lyrics like “Daddy was dumb, said that I’d be something special,” and “I make my own fun in grandmama’s basement,” provide a tongue-in-cheek humorous backdrop. Although some publications have dubbed this song as having “throwaway lyrics,” I think it’s an interesting take on growing up and realizing adulthood isn’t quite how you imagined; as a 20-year-old college student, I’m finding this more and more relatable each day.

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If Holden Caulfield were a song, he would be ‘Youth.’ This track is probably my favorite from the album, and acts as a nostalgic, coming-of-age anthem told from a mother’s perspective.“I know you’ll feel the ghost of some memories so warm,” she says to her son. This grown-up lullaby to your youth is filled with incredibly fun melodies, one of which was actually made from an animal itself. Says the band: “The synth sound in ‘Youth’ is a sample of an owl that i made into a synth. so i could play the owl. on a keyboard. another fact: no animals were harmed in the making of this record.”

Season 2, Episode 3

S02 E03 combines video game sound effects with kooky lyrics to describe that one person we know that just sort of sits around and does nothing all day. This sort of lifestyle has its ups and downs, as the band notes: “Liquid TV afternoons – sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me sad.” This song also features what may be one of my favorite choruses of all time: “Leftover breakfast, cereal for lunch. She’s broken, but she’s fun. My girl eats mayonnaise from a jar while she’s gettin’ blazed.” Iconic. Just iconic.

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Pork Soda

You know how the beginnings of relationships can be super fun, and then eventually you have to grow up and deal with real stuff and suddenly they become, well, less fun? Pork Soda details the progress of a relationship like this. The fun “honeymoon” stage has worn off, forcing the couple to deal with “real life” – like arguments and saying things you didn’t mean to say. Longing for happier, more exciting times are evoked in lyrics like, “Let’s climb the cliff edge and jump again.”

Take a Slice

Arctic Monkeys-esque guitar riffs leads into what may be the most suggestive song on the track; the band croons “I’m filthy and I love it,” with sensual synth pulsing in the background. “Take a Slice” uses provocative imagery like dark fingernail polish wrapped around an unfiltered cigarette to project a specific image in the minds of listeners.

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Agnes

As by far the most shocking and mood-shifting track, “Agnes” leaves the album on an incredibly somber note. “So low you keep getting high/Where went that cheeky friend of mine?” In a Facebook post, “dave and dudes,” remarked, “The last song is my favourite but i’m not telling you why.” So, what were your favorite tracks on the album, VocaLady readers?

Albums like this are so important. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some uplifting, happy-go-lucky tunes. However, truthful, raw pieces like this are always refreshing to remind us that life doesn’t always have to be perfect. “How to be a Human Being” reinforces the notion that there’s not just one way to be a human being. This album explores the highs, lows and everything in between. Our human experience is diverse and complex – just like each track on Glass Animals’ album. We’re all in this one big world together, and no matter how much our stories differ, we will always have that in common.

Photo credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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