An indie quartet from Oxford, England has succeeded in creating an album that transforms somber and banal life experiences into groovy, harmonious songs.
Glass Animals’ second album, “How to be a Human Being,” is a concept album focusing on a specific theme; in this case, human personalities.
From raw percussion beats to hazy synth, Glass Animals implements a range of sounds that flow together melodically.
Their instrumental backgrounds are so engaging that it’s easy to overlook the lyrics at first, which are subtle but immensely creative.
The album artwork reflects the contents. It’s vivid and colorful, depicting a cast of eleven characters. Each of these characters’ stories are described in one of the 11 tracks.
The character studies within each track are inspired by someone the band has met on tour, from a taxi driver to someone’s tattoo, according to lead singer Dave Bayley in an interview with Earmilk.
The first track on the album, “Life Itself,” is about “a guy who was born a bit strange and struggles to become part of society,” Bayley said. “Because of that, he spends more time alone in his own head.”
While the subject matter is serious, there are also moments of wit and humor.
In “Life Itself,” Bayley sings, “I can’t get a job so I live with my mom / I take her money but not quite enough.”
The tracks on “How to be a Human Being” inspire listeners to observe the people around them more closely and to think about what is going on in their heads.
“Mama’s Gun,” the fifth track on the album, focuses on mental health. It features a sample of “Mr. Gruder” by The Carpenters, a song also about a fictional character.
“Mental illness is sadly still a subject matter that we avoid speaking about all too much,” Glass Animals posted on their Facebook page.
The lyrics reference the less appealing realities of modern life , such as drug abuse and mental health.
“Mama’s Gun” speaks of tedious boredom through lyrics such as, “In the summer silence / I was doing nothing.”
“Agnes,” the last track on the album, discusses depression and its link to substance abuse.
The lyrics offer insight into Agnes as a person with lines like, “You see the sad in everything a / Genius of love and loneliness.”
The songs are bittersweet, featuring upbeat instrumentals and lyrics that are painstakingly human, allowing listeners to think about the subject matter in new and interesting ways.