Glass Animals is an English music group known for pushing the bounds of what is expected in music, blending experimental electronics with complex lyrics. Making their grand return, the group is gearing up to drop a new album. Their latest release is a highly anticipated song off the project – “Heat Waves.”
Muffled electronic squeals and vocalizations begin the track, before the audio gains clarity and the song begins in a burst of sound, “Road shimmer/Wiggling the vision/Heat heat waves/I’m swimming a mirror.” With snare-like electronic beats behind him, lead singer Dave Bayley launches into the lyrics. He sings about caring for someone so much that they consume his thoughts, “…Heat waves been faking me out/Can’t make you happier now.”
“Heat waves” represent the cumbersome and entangling nature of obsession. Heat waves wash over places and people, slowing down cities and making existing somewhat difficult. The beat remains constant, but Dave’s voice becomes more gentle as he discusses distracting himself from how much he cares about someone, in the way you try to escape a heat wave, “Usually I put/Something on TV/So we never think/About you and me.” He admits that “today” he cannot avoid the thoughts.
Dave’s voice gains more passion as he sings about wanting someone to have a life that he can’t provide. Distorted realities become clear, “Fake water all across the road/It’s gone now the night has come.” On hot days, roads will often appear as though they’re covered in water because light refracts when it moves through multiple layers of mediums with differing densities, but brains misunderstand why the sky is on the ground, thus creating the image of water on the road. This is like being in a complex relationship, your brain crafting scenarios to justify and comfort the toxicity.
After the chorus repeats, “Sometimes, all I think about is you/Late nights in the middle of June/Heat waves been faking me out,” Dave’s voice takes on a more languid style of singing, dragging out vowels and diphthongs. He sings as though he’s being slowed by heat. He admits it’s time to let the subject of the song go, despite how it pains them, “You say something so loving but/Now I’ve got to let you go…Don’t wanna be alone/You know it hurts me too.” The intense beats get pulled back for a moment as Dave discusses how every time he makes a definitive decision he ends up stumbling back into the relationship, “You look so broken when you cry/One more and then I’ll say goodbye.”
Warped mentalities rule in this song, which is not foreign to frontman Dave. The group’s 2016 album “How to Be a Human Being” focused on the stories of characters, allowing one to try and get inside the mindset of these people. Dave once explained, “I spent three or four years trying to see the world from other people’s perspectives…” Glass Animals also began to find success while Dave was studying for medical school at the highly prestigious King’s College London, where he ultimately concluded his degree while studying neuroscience, giving him an even better understanding of different mental states.
Dave’s voice becomes quieter, like he’s being forced to walk away from something, but turning back to look at what he’s releasing. He knows he’s not good for the person he is with, so he must remove himself, “I just wonder what you’re/Dreaming of/When you sleep and smile so comfortable/I just wish that I could give you that/That look that’s perfectly unsad.” The chorus repeats, the audio still quiet. There’s a rising instrumental layer underneath the vocals, creating suspense. After crescendoing, there’s a pause and a slam to a drum, before the intensity of the song returns. The chorus repeats and the song fades away with repeating pulsing electronic beats.
The song also comes with a new video, featuring Dave dragging a wagon much to the amusement of quarantined Londonites. Dave shared, “The ‘Heat Waves’ video is a love letter to live music and the culture and togetherness surrounding it. It was filmed at the peak of the lockdown in my neighborhood in East London by the lovely people who live around me, just using their phones. These are people who are usually out at shows, in galleries, going to cinemas, etc. These venues are left empty now, and many of them will not survive. The song is about loss and longing, and ultimately realizing you are unable to save something…and this video is about that but for art, being together and human contact…When everyone was leaning out of their windows filming, I felt that same sense of togetherness and spine-tingling energy that happened at live shows. It made the coldness of performing to an empty room with the band stuck on screens feel even more heart-breaking.”
“Heat Waves” is 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. A song for the season and beyond, “Heat Waves” is the feeling of diving into a pool, cool blue water surrounding you amidst scorching summer heat.