When Glass Animals crept onto the scene with leisurely debut album ‘ZABA’, frontman Dave Bayley’s mind was firmly submerged in the abstract, his nonsensical lyrics preventing the sleek synths and tropical undertones from leaping too far out of his own headspace.
Now, ‘How to Be a Human Being’ sees Bayley exploring the world around him, examining passers-by in order to help form his own identity. Creating fictional lives for the figures shown on the album sleeve, each with their own dedicated song, he explores them individually; from the helpless child in opening anthem ‘Youth’ to the deluded Flash Gordon fan who still lives with his mum in ‘Life Itself.’ “She said I look fat but I look fantastic” Bayley boasts, backed by pompous synths; a theme which runs throughout the album with grandiose production often covering the banal lyrics which Bayley clings to.
After digesting the American lifestyle following sold-out out shows over the pond, the third track on their second album, ‘Season 2 Episode 3’ is aptly named. It pops and locks into place like a Gameboy colour loading screen only to buffer to Bayley’s levels of simplicity with lyrics: “My girl eats mayonnaise, from a jar while she’s getting blaze.” It’s here where he builds common ground amongst some of his characters as idle nobodies who get high and eat garbage, perhaps reflective of his own self-loathing. He continues to use throwaway lines in the glitch-riddled ‘Pork Soda’: “Pineapples are in my head, got nobody ‘cos I’m brain dead” & “Maybe I’m just a bum” but at a second glance they’re self-deprecating.
On the other hand, barking hip-hop number ‘The Other Side of Paradise’ is sneering with power and the filthy arrogance in ‘Take A Slice’ is glaringly obvious: “I’m the treasure baby, I’m the prize” & “I’m gonna fuck my way through college”, followed by an over-indulgent guitar solo.
You sense there’s a bit of Bayley in all of these personas. Before Glass Animals he was with the rest of the 99%, at the arse end of society, but a bombarding confidence in ‘How To Be A Human Being’ has thrusted the band to the top of the pecking order.