Glass Animals’ new album is pure creative genius, and you should know about it.
Glass Animals gained recognition back in the summer of 2014 through their debut album, ZABA, which introduced the band’s distinct cerebral sound to the world of indie pop. Two years later on August 26th, 2016, the band released their second album, How To Be A Human Being. “How To Be A Human Being is an album about people,” says the band. According to frontman Dave Bayley, each song on the album is a different story crafted about a different made-up character. In writing the lyrics, he got inside each character’s heads and started fleshing out their individual lives and personalities, even down to the petty details: what they ate, what they did in their spare time, what they thought about, everything. How To Be A Human Being is a beautiful, complicated, and compelling character study born out of the band’s past two years experience on tour — and it’s brilliant.
“We’ve been meeting so many people,” Bayley tells EW. “Doing promos, at the venue, going to after parties after the show, taxis to and from, interviews. You’re meeting, like, 100 people a day and they’re all telling you stories about their lives. Some of them are really heartbreaking, some of them are really disgusting, some of them are really funny.”
“You know when you see someone in a train station or an airport and they look a bit out of place?” he asks. “I started wondering about who they are and what they do and how they fill their spare time. I started making up characters,” Bayley Says. Thus, How To Be A Human Being was born — 11 different songs painting 11 different portraits of 11 different characters, each with their own distinct flaws, quirks, appearances, lifestyles, and personalities.
For example, “Season 2 Episode 3” portrays a girl who “eats mayonnaise from a jar, when she’s getting blazed,” while “Youth” portrays a parent who sings to her child, lamenting their aging. There’s a boyfriend who misses the days when his girlfriend was still fun (“Pork Soda”), a man on the verge of a violent outburst (“Mama’s Gun”), and a broken and formerly Percocet-dependent woman reborn (“Agnes”). Heartbreaking, disgusting, and some really funny, just as Bayley promised. (Vain, Madison via Entertainment Weekly).
But the band didn’t stop there. They ran a casting and chose actors to portray each of the 11 characters. These actors are who you see on the album cover, in the music videos, and in the artwork. These people come from all walks of life, as demonstrated by the diverse bunch of characters photographed on the album cover. The artwork found inside the album is a series of photographs of these characters in their own little worlds — inside their living rooms, their workplaces, their kitchens. These same characters come to life through the band’s music videos, as you can recognize many of the characters from the album cover in the music video for “Life Itself.”
This cohesive characterization serves as the spectacular genius behind the entire album and all of its elements. Each song tells a complicated yet fascinating story of these peoples’ lives, all of which are brilliantly tied together through the album’s branding. How To Be A Human Being is thoughtful, articulate, bewildering, captivating, beautifully-crafted, and astoundingly creative. Glass Animals have given us pure creative genius.
Oh, and the songs sound amazing.
Whether you’re in need of new music or simply appreciate creativity, this album is worth a listen (or 5). Listen to Glass Animals’ How To Be A Human Being here: