Glass Animals was a group that I was never truly a fan of until I heard their latest album “Dreamland.” Released back in August 2020, “Dreamland” was a great album that missed my radar simply because I was not completely invested in the band’s prior releases “ZABA” and “How To Be A Human Being.” Having listened to the album numerous times now, I have to say it oozes an uber cool “funky” sound with a heavily electronic production that makes it worth a listen from beginning to end, be it actively or as a good late night study album.
While the songs themselves emulate a cool sound, the lyrics themselves juggle heavy themes and pop culture references in a way that complements the composition. After a bit of digging through interviews, it turns out that it’s because “Dreamland” is the most personal album of lead vocalist Dave Bayley that reveals much about his past. Opening with the first track fittingly titled “Dreamland,” the psychedelic sounding stage is set for the rest of the album. Slow and ethereal, the title track works as a perfect segue into the rest of the album which evolves into a more electronic, beat-heavy journey.
“Space Ghost Coast to Coast” is an example of when the heavier themes shine through, as it gives an insight into Dave Bayley’s childhood and the story of a troubled friend from his childhood, and accordingly sounds full of angst. Even upbeat sounding songs like my personal favorite “Tangerine,” and “Heat Waves” have a dark or sad side to them. “Tangerine” has the narrator of the song deal with their lover who has changed into a shell of their former self, and struggles to help them see who they used to be. As the standout of the album for me, “Tangerine” features the perfect bass and sound mixing with a simple and catchy chorus.
“Heat Waves” follows suit in the catchy category but also discusses themes of not being able to make the people you care about happy. The balance between darker themes and lighter melodies works exceptionally well, and each song builds on this concept. Just like in “Hot Sugar,” Dave sings about liking the idea of someone rather than the actual person, a sentiment we all been fooled to believe at some point. That being said, there are also comedic elements with “Melon and Coconut” being a story about a breakup between a literal melon and coconut.
One of my gripes with the album as a whole however, is the inclusion of audio clips in between songs. Many of these are without context and detract from the experience. In my case I had to create a separate playlist with just the songs exclusively to enjoy it thoroughly.
All artists grapple with creating variety within an album, as being consistent with a specific type of sound often sacrifices originality between each individual song. Here, it works just well enough to distinguish them. With the themes out of the way, the only way to describe the vibes of the album is: cool. Glass Animals nailed their psychedelic pop sound in their most recent effort, but don’t just take my word for it and take a trip to “Dreamland” if you put off visiting it as well.
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