Glass Animals are back with their third album, Dreamland, four years after the Mercury Prize-nominated How To Be a Human Being. And they’ve brought us a new technicolour sound, a whole lot of bangers and life experience to draw from.
Glass Animals future was left uncertain in 2018 when drummer Joe Seaward experienced life-changing injuries in a major cycling accident. Speaking to the Independent, lead singer Dave Bayley said “I didn’t know if Joe was going to survive, or recover,” following on with “In a time like that, all you can seem to do is start thinking about the past.”
That past is what informs Dreamland and makes it an absolute triumph, one that conquers uncertain futures, a pandemic destroying their comeback tour, a big Glastonbury slot, as well as delaying the album twice as to not distract from the key issues of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Dreamland is a euphoric and colourful journey through the mind of Dave Bayley, dotting on some key issues and giving us all an insight into a youth spent in Texas not conforming to the traditional Texas male stereotype. A simpler way to describe it is if Lo-fi hip hop beats to chill/study to met Spongebob’s music in its early 2000s peak. Or, for the Futurama fans, it sounds like if Bayley could play the, famously difficult to master, Holophonor.
However, Dreamland is much more than it’s vaporwave, video game, 80’s inspired sound. It’s a truly introspective look into the Glass Animals creative process and mind unlike that we experienced in Zaba and the overtly outward-looking, imagination gone wild, How To Be a Human Being. It’s truly honest, and Bayley has laid it all to bare, topped with audio clips of his childhood on the home video interludes. If you’re listening via streaming services, you might see some moments of baby Dave in these videos. It’s a nice way to feel closer to artists you love, in a time where the future of live music is hanging in the balance.
Continuing to touch on subjects of youth, masculinity, sexuality and heartbreak, Dreamland is a relatable masterpiece that somehow stays relatable, even with song titles like ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast’.
There isn’t a dull moment on the album, with massive pre-release bangers ‘Tokyo Drifting’, with Denzel Curry, and ‘Heat Waves’, interspaced with new hits like ‘Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth’ and ‘Tangerine’. The former of which contains possibly the greatest lyric of all time: ‘big dicks and big ol’ titties on the sly’.
Dreamland is a strangely addictive and impressive body of work showing Glass Animals’ desire to continually grow and evolve their sound whilst continuing to feel completely authentic. The band have been adapting to this strange new world with a Zoom streaming party announced last minute earlier this week, a live performance of ‘Heat Waves’ in front of a promotional billboard in Hackney, before being ushered away by police and videos filmed from their lockdown home.
Closing on the almost sombre ‘Helium’, Bayley reflects on the breakdown of what is alluded to be a romantic relationship. His voice fades into a familiar backing track, the one that introduced us to Dreamland on the title and opening track until his childhood self says ‘Bye-bye’.
If we need to wait another four years until the next Glass Animals record, I think we’ll find ourselves more than content living in the beautiful world of Dreamland.
Glass Animals will be going on a UK and EU tour in 2021. Follow them on Twitter here.