On Glass Animals’ sophomore studio album How To Be A Human Being, frontman Dave Bayley recorded conversations on his iPhone for inspiration. The stories came from the likes of taxi drivers and overzealous fans to strangers on the street.
The sonic result is something that’s as multifarious and unexpected as you would expect its human subject matters to be.
The best way to describe How To Be A Human Being is “kaleidoscopic”. The Oxford quartet delivers anthropological-like observations through strange indie grooves and sophisticated electronic noise.
In hindsight, you wouldn’t expect anything less from the psychedelic pop outfit. Debut album Zaba established the boys as an act with an ear for compounding bizarre lyrics and chill beats.
Despite that introduction though, nothing could quite prepare one for the trippy opener Life Itself. Over Eastern drums and irresistible hooks, the band makes its intent obvious from the get go: Glass Animals is embracing a more adventurous soundscape.
That intoxicating brew of eccentric beats and vivid rhythms is done to various degrees of success on the record.
Season 2 Episode 3 makes use of simple hip-hop flavours to deliver a retro computer game-esque tune while Mama’s Gun dishes atmospheric instruments while Bayley muses about a murderous spouse.
Then there’s Pork Soda, a slick concoction of blissful tune and easy-listening beats. And of course, the band’s signature strange songcraft – “Pineapples are in my head”.
Elsewhere, the boys delve into the chilled electronic indie undertone of its debut on tracks such as Cane Shuga and The Other Side Of Paradise.
The thing about How To Be A Human Being is that despite the cheery melodies, the songs are often imbued with dark and sinister sentiments.
That said, the record shines when the boys are not being terribly subdued about tragedy. Single Youth, with lyrics that ponder upon a mother who lost her child, is heartbreaking.
There’s an array of raw emotions hidden behind the music on How To Be A Human Being. And the fact that the boys manage to meld them seamlessly into the music is the hallmark of pop ingenuity.
How To Be A Human Being