Glass Animals officially have three Billboard Top 200 albums on their hands, still remaining in the top 100 of the charts right now. A hit four-piece musical group from Oxford, England formed by Edmund Irwin-Singer on bass, Joe Seaward on drums, Drew MacFarlane on guitar and Dave Bayley as lead vocalist, formed in 2012. The group gained international success in 2014, with their hit project “Zaba.” They became incredibly renowned for their unique sound and impressive live shows, even selling out venues in under 40-seconds. After Joe got into a serious bike accident, the group went on hiatus. When Glass Animals came back, they returned with a different style. Their latest album is “Dreamland.”
While Glass Animals are no strangers to utilizing creative production and hip-hop features, “Dreamland” takes a more focused swing at breaking from the mold. This is definitely a comeback album. A blend of their vaporwave roots and a new production style, “Dreamland” is a comfortable but clear attempt at something new.
“Dreamland” is a fresh sound from Glass Animals, but it fits well with the rest of their catalog. This album isn’t a drastic shift to an entirely new genre, but Glass Animals have long-been proving that they work outside of the boundaries and barriers that others often see. While the production, style and storyline differ greatly from previous works, tracks from “How To Be A Human Being,” such as “Life Itself,” “Youth” and “Cane Shuga,” could be slipped into the new project and be unnoticed by novice listeners. While each song on that album focused around a story, “Dreamland” focuses on forming a new world.
The opening and title track, “Dreamland,” is one of the most impressive tracks of the album. Immediately a favorite, the song soared to number seven on the Billboard charts, a strong reminder of their power as a group. Frankly, not every song on the project measures up to its level, and that’s because “Dreamland” is a simply special track. Magical and conjuring of clouds and rosy imagery, “Dreamland” is an exceptional welcome to the album and concept.
“Tangerine” is bright and colorful, even though the meaning is about feeling lost and tricked by the memory of someone. The sound of the track is similar to their 2016 song “Pork Soda” in its food references and busy feeling, but “Tangerine”’s sound is far summer-y. Dave sings, “You got what I need, tangerine, do this for me Hands, knees, please, tangerine, sugar, honey, sweet…”
This storyline is continued on “Heatwaves.” One of the most popular hits from the project, “Heat Waves” also follows the same theme about “losing yourself in a relationship to the point where you’ve crafted a relationship in your mind that’s far better than the one in reality. Things have become blurry, a common effect of heat waves” (read more about “Heat Waves” here). There are lots of common threads like that throughout the album, further the overall storyline and sensation of the album.
“Tokyo Drifting” the punchy and heavily nostalgic debut single that features Denzel Curry. Denzel is a renowned rapper, a member of the 2016 XXL Freshman class and a heavily favored feature artist in recent years. Another one of the best singles from the project, “Tokyo Drifting” enforces the overall message of the project and outshines some of the other tracks (read more about “Tokyo Drifting” here). There are songs that channel the energy and style of “Tokyo Drifting.” The album seems to firmly grasp this in fragments, not on the entirety of the tracks. Songs like “Hot Sugar” and “Melon and the Coconut” sound a bit like Wild Beasts’ song “2BU” in some parts. Then, the tracks slip into a style that utilizes a sound quality with fewer layers and more hip-hop influences (in production and cadence). This occurs in the latter half of the songs, before shooting back to the parts of the song that more closely resemble other busy tracks such as “Your Love (Déjà vu)” (read more about the single here). “Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth” even has a shift midway through that track, which sounds like a boat falling off the sharp drop of a waterfall.
They could be accused of a lack of coherency in this regard, but it all actually feels quite intentional. The playfulness and UFO-blip sound effects do have meaning. The radical choices that the group has consistently made over the years also allow the listeners to feel connected to their past and future with this project. Dreamland is a fresh new sound from Glass Animals and a reminder of their prowess as a group. Simultaneously making a comeback and shifting gears as an outfit isn’t always seamless, but Glass Animals isn’t fearing any restrictions or changes with this project.
“It’s All Incredibly Loud” was the final single from the album and one of the darker songs. While may of the other tracks sound like a more electric bright blue color, “It’s All Incredibly Loud” is a darker navy shade. Frontman Dave shared, “The entire song is only about three seconds of life. I think most people have been in a position where they have had to tell someone something that they knew was going to devastate them. Something that would change their life. It’s about the silence that occurs between those words leaving your mouth and the other person reacting. It’s the most deafening thing I’ve ever experienced. [‘It’s All Incredibly Loud’] is meant to be a metaphor for the build-up before that, and then the sudden explosion of quiet that lasts forever.” This song ties to the album’s constant nostalgic references, its songs like “Domestic Bliss” (which has a gentler sound) and the “home movie” interjection tracks. Dreamland roots its meaning in reality with these songs, focusing on the deeply human fears and memories that ground the more whimsical sections of the project.
The closing song “Helium” ties in instrumental elements of the song “Dreamland,” and ends the project. While the opening song felt like falling into a new plane of existence, “Helium” feels like you’re floating (hence the helium name) away from it.
There is a definite element of surrealism throughout the entire album, though it is less experimental in its overall presentation than their previous projects. The accessibility of the project makes for a different feeling to the album, though it still connects with listeners in a special way outside of its plotline. Dreamland transports listeners to a dreamscape that is as strange as the real world is at the moment.
You can stream Dreamland everywhere now!
Feature image courtesy of Republic Records