Glass Animals
How To Be A Human Being


4.0
excellent

Review

by wtferrothorn USER (36 Reviews)
August 27th, 2016 | 134 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With 'How To Be A Human Being', Glass Animals answers the question "What's it like to be human?"

People are special. Biologically, no person is exactly identical to another. Even on less biological grounds, personality and emotion are what keep humans from being soulless sacks of bones, muscles, and skin. It can be overwhelming to think about how there are over 7 billion completely unique human beings living on this one planet, and even more if you take the dead into account as former people who were one-of-a-kind in their lifetime. It’s also a concept that must really pique the interest of Glass Animals frontman, Dave Bayley. During the band’s massive world tour in support of 2014’s Zaba, Bayley recorded hundreds of conversations with people from all walks of life. After using these recordings to build his own set of characters as depicted on the album’s cover, the concept of How To Be A Human Being was formed.

In an interview with Vinyl Me, Please, Bayley went into just how intricately these characters are written: “For each character, I have everything about them written down. Basically these huge poster size sheets with what their furniture is, what their house looks like, what clothes they wear, how they act, what they think about, what they do on their spare time.” The band even went to the length to design personal websites for the two characters that star separately in the first two singles. The effort put into creating these personalities shows; Human Being is a lyrical intrigue from front to back. Some tracks may have some vaguely similar major themes, but each track shows off its protagonists own eccentricities in their ~4 minute runtime. Case in point, “Life Itself”, which centers on a socially inept, nerdy man (who according to his personal website is named Chuck Rogers) living in his parents’ basement, uses the line “Thought that I was northern Camden's own Flash Gordon” to express hopes of becoming bigger than oneself. Wonderful indirect characterization is used throughout “Season 2 Episode 3”, as great lyrics about having cereal for lunch, eating mayo from the jar, and checking your phone in three-day-old clothes being delivered in Bayley’s wispy vocals perfectly paint a picture of a lazy, couch potato pothead, and how her behavior affects her relationship with her significant other. The laid back beat that incorporates synths and sound effects reminiscent of ‘80s-era video games strengthens the mood of this album highlight even more. It’s the prime example of how well Glass Animals craft characters through the power of music on Human Being.

Just like the cast of characters that inhabit this record, the music accompanying their stories is extremely animated. “Life Itself” is driven by hard-hitting tribal beat that pulls just as much inspiration from world music as it does from hip-hop, and is the closest this album gets to sounding like Zaba. How To Be A Human Being is vastly more varied than its predecessor, and for the better. But if there was one reoccurring musical theme, it’d be the more pronounced influence hip-hop has on the production, a change of pace that goes over incredibly well. Human Being is filled with colorful, creative, and sometimes nutty beats. The exception to this is “Take a Slice”, a mess of a track that’s too bombastic for its own good. The following track pulls off the inclusion of bluesy guitar with much more success. On the other side of the spectrum is “Mama’s Gun”, a beautifully climactic song that elevates the somber story of a woman with schizophrenia forced by her disorder to kill the ones she loves to an tear-jerking emotional experience with the wonderful blend of flute, choral vocals, and one of Bayley’s best performances behind the mic.

Unlike any typical concept album, How To Be Human Being doesn’t stick to a single story or theme. In fact, it does the exact opposite. A song about a mother lamenting her son’s young death and all the memories he could’ve made later in life is followed by a track dedicated to lazy stoners. But this lack of solidarity answers a question very similar to the album’s title: what’s it like to be a human being? It’s funny, sad, sexy, and gleeful. It’s filled with mental illness, social awkwardness, standing in lines, and cookie coasters. It's all of these things at the same time. This is why How To Be A Human Being might understand life more than most albums in 2016. Life isn’t all pain and suffering, nor is it always a blessing. It’s a mixed bag, and you're going to have to deal with the good and the bad.



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user ratings (216)
3.7
great
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Rowan5215 STAFF (4.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
wtferrothorn
August 27th 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Life Itself": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yd9p4n5hLEg

"Youth": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZdsmLgCVdU

"Season 2 Episode 3": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhZXaWYTPoE



Sources mentioned in review:

Vinyl, Me Please interview - http://blog.vinylmeplease.com/glass-animals-liner-notes



The two websites designed for Human Being characters:

Site 1 - http://www.raygun123.com



Site 2 - http://dizzyoncaffeine.com



Thanks to Rowan for proofreading this review. This is my entry into Sowing's Weekly Review Challenge. Any and all constructive criticism is greatly appreciated!

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
August 27th 2016


16435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

gotta fix the encoding in the last paragraph but pretty good review. reading this makes me think this is an Australian or English band akin to either cat empire or bombay bicycle club so I'll check.

Digging: Satyr - Locus

wtferrothorn
August 27th 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn, you're right. Even after I second checked for that specific thing. I'll fix it asap.

danielcardoso
August 27th 2016


11770 Comments


Really great read ferro, pos from me easily. This is on my list, gonna check within next couple of days.

wtferrothorn
August 27th 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks daniel, def check this out. It's my pop record of the year, and top 10 of the year overall.

danielcardoso
August 27th 2016


11770 Comments


Nice! This and frank ocean i'll try to hear tomorrow then :]

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 27th 2016


25343 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nice review tbh. prob not gonna review this now as id just flood this album with too many reviews aha. but this album is super solid. prob a 4 after 1 listen

wtferrothorn
August 27th 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man, but don't let my review discourage you. If you're really inspired to review this, go ahead! Besides, this is the internet. Opinions are everywhere, so one more couldn't hurt.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
August 27th 2016


50582 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excited for this

Digging: Yoko Duo - Behaving Like A Widower

wtferrothorn
August 27th 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's good, like it more than Zaba to be honest.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
August 27th 2016


50582 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice i liked zaba a lot

Lord(e)Po)))ts
August 27th 2016


50582 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album title is super bad tho

wtferrothorn
August 27th 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, Zaba is definitely the better album title of the two, but this one does fit into the concept so eh.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2016


43238 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Zaba is kinda ehh as an album title too

Digging: Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats - Unlocked

wtferrothorn
August 27th 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey Row what are your favorite songs off this?

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2016


43238 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agnes is easily #1, Pork Soda and S2E3 are pretty close behind it though, hbu

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 27th 2016


25343 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

S2E3 is best but The Other Side of Paradise is sick too

wtferrothorn
August 27th 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mama's Gun would probably be first, with S2E3, The Other Side of Paradise, Life Itself, and Agnes making up the top 5.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2016


43238 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Life Itself is fantastic, one of the best first singles in recent memory

wtferrothorn
August 28th 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also, one thing I wanted to mention in the review but couldn't fit in there. Apparently "Mama's Gun" samples a Carpenters song, and if you read the lyrics and know the story behind Karen Carpenter you'd know that it's tragically fitting.



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