Album Review: Glass Animals – Dreamland


4 years since their last hit album How to Be a Human Being, Glass Animals are back and bringing their summer sweet psychedelic pop to your earbuds. Whilst both their last and most recent album draws inspiration from the people the band have encountered in their lives, Dreamland captures a more personal, introspective side to human interaction. 

This is made immediately apparent by the use of samples within the album, all coming from lead singer’s Dave Bayley’s musical inspirations. A Dr Dre inspired vibe within ‘Space Ghost Coast To Ghost’ comes to light,with this soon being replaced with the iconic rhythm and tone from the Beastie Boys and The Beatles within this album. It seems that Glass Animals can strip any genre to its bare essentials, yet warp it in a way that enhances the hallucinogenic, woozy tones they seamlessly create. 

“The listener is reminded that this album is a personal, intimate affair”.

Intimate is a word I would use to truly describe the album. Each song immerses itself into a different emotion – emotions that seemingly do not fit, but Glass Animals intricately balance them that it seems nothing but natural. Take the first song on the album – ‘Dreamland’. Here we have two themes which do not seem to naturally blend: the fear of losing someone you love and childhood escapism. Yet, just from the first track, we are hypnotised by the ability Glass Animals have to recreate a childhood memory and connect to themes of adulthood. Soothing, yet rather melancholic tones are pronounced, an upbeat lullaby if you will. This is especially poignant when one understands the inspiration behind the song. Joe Seaward, the drummer of the band, was involved in a cycling accident which was deemed fatal and his survival rate was low. The fear of death and losing a loved one, a rather heavy topic, has been reworked into a catchy and memorable anthem. No matter the theme, Glass Animals can rework it into a masterpiece. 

This idea of intimacy is made even more pronounced by interludes of home videos which feature Bayley himself when he was a child. Once again, the listener is reminded that this album is a personal, intimate affair. Simultaneously, we are the viewers and experiencers. 

The recurring theme of childhood is made welcome through nostalgic lyrics, mentioning ‘Dunkaroos, and Real Monsters Capri Sun in the Bottom’, a reference to the classic foods of the 90s and noughties one might find in their lunch box. Even with songs not concerning childhood, but with the notion of breaking up with a partner, we still see this connection. ‘Melon and the Coconut’, a song about separation, still mentions ‘GI Joe’ and the dream of having ‘school runs in a 4 by 4’. Familial routine being used as a way to communicate the dreams one may have had with a significant other shows how deeply our childhood runs into our psyche. Glass Animals reminds us of this feature, inconspicuously and subconsciously. 

A concoction of chill and chaotic energy radiates from this 45 minute album.

Whilst most of the songs do fit the same aesthetic, it is ‘Tokyo Drifting’ which serves as an anomaly. Certainly not an unwelcome one, but a swift jump from the sentimental atmosphere that has been created for us in the first 6 tracks of the album. Bass heavy and surging with adrenaline, it is the kind of song to be played at full volume down and motorway. Whilst I love the song endlessly, I do feel that it does not harmonise with the rest of the album as I am sure the band hoped it would.

A personal favourite of mine has got to be ‘Your Love (Deja Vu)’. Based on the idea of loving chaos (especially in a relationship), the instruments truly mirror this. Tropical, seductive and energetic, it is no wonder that this song (and ‘Tokyo Drifting’), were put forward to be the singles for the album. It is also interesting to note how this album was originally meant to be released in June, but this date was pushed forward due to the band wanting to remain focused on the BLM movement. 

Overall, a concoction of chill and chaotic energy radiates from this 45 minute album, woven together by the universal acknowledgement of childhood and escapism in life. A solid five stars from me.

Featured Image: Glass Animals live at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago by Rachel Zyzda via Wikemedia Commons.

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