British indie band Glass Animals’ 2014 debut ZABA seemed out of this world in sound and concept. Their second effort attempts to turn things around by focusing on a cast of characters who are very much grounded in reality, but ultimately remain somewhat obscure.

‘How To Be A Human Being’ by Glass Animals – Album Review

The album was inspired by the tales of people band frontman David Bayley encountered during his travels when promoting ZABA. Conceptually, this is an exciting and creative approach to fuel their music and a completely unexpected direction to take from the effervescent magic of ZABA. To say that something along the production line for this album it tends to flounder would be incorrect. Like meticulous documenters Glass Animals have self-produced this record following a detailed outline in order to realize their intentions. “Life Itself” with its tribal beat and hip-hop influence is closest to the past sound. The youthful energy abounds on tracks like “Take A Slice” and “Season 2 Episode 3” and the sonic mood as well as Bayley’s voice and intonation change accordingly. “Mama’s Gun” and “Youth,” on the other hand, target the other end of the spectrum, beautifully depicting tragedy and the humility we can learn from it.

With such a varied cast of characters – from deadbeats to romantics, depicted on the album cover – it seems that Bayley channels each one in each track to the extent that he becomes those people in order to tell their stories. The tone is largely confessional, and the lyrics are genuine, unpretentious and fresh. Overall, this is a cohesive album despite the apparent differences between the people who inspired each track and even the resulting stylistic and thematic differences, which is a feat not many albums can be admired for.

Even though How To Be A Human Being has a distinct energy, it is still lacking some in comparison to its predecessor ZABA. It would be fair to say, however, that this record has different aims and inasmuch as it teaches us about the ups and downs of life straight from the source, it achieves what it sets out to do.

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