Glass Animals – Dreamland (Album Review)

Brace yourself, Psychedelic Pop giants Glass Animals are set to release their long awaited album Dreamland on Friday, August 7th, 2020 via Republic Records.

Looking back, these Oxford natives – Dave Bailey (vocals/guitar), Ed Irwin- Singer (bass), Drew MacFarlane (guitar), and Joe Seaward (drums) – jumped onto the Art Pop scene to rave reviews back in 2012 with the release of their Leaflings EP. The uprising of a hush hush genre of music, they followed up with the release of Zaba in 2014, continuing to intermix pure honest lyrics with trippy, ethereal instrumentation. Putting emotions at the forefront, after the release of multiple singles, they finally put out How to Be a Human Being in 2016 and left a immediate impression that they were here to stay. 

Now with their third album, Dreamland, several years have passed and it is an ethos of events in the band’s life from the suicide of a friend to a traumatic accident. Additionally, it shows a broader atmosphere of influences that range from Brian Wilson to Timbaland. Opening with title-track, and the second single, the album launches into a sonic vastness of synth, layered loop tracks. An emotional deep dive, where you are exploring Bailey’s inner self, “Tangerine” takes a more Hip Hop approach with a bright, hazy tropical vibe that plays with ironic lyrics of vain, shallow love.

Moving forward, “Hot Sugar” is a trippy technicolor psychedeli-synth cut where Bailey’s voice puts you into a deep trance. This is before “Home Movie BTX,” which is another subtle fuzzy reminder of a time less complicated. Taking an upbeat turn, “Space Ghost (Coast to Coast)” twists back and forth between the lyrical contrast of youth reminders such as Pokemon, Dunkaroos, but also offers a look into domestic disputes behind the iron curtain. Keeping things interesting, Indie club smash “Tokyo Drifting,” with Rapper Denzel Curry, comes in as something that would be fitting on a Fast and the Furious soundtrack. 

On the contrary, “Melon and the Coconut” pays more homage to both R&B and Hip Hop, but in a slick, cool, and dreamy way. Which leads us to the hot single “Your Love (Deja Vu),” which plays to more of the similar vibe. Showing influences from The Neptunes, it plays more to Glass Animals’ strengths with a delicate yet enticing synth hook. Steamy and fun, “Waterfalls Coming out of Your Mouth” follows the same suit, however, the main difference here are the lyrics, which plays upon the influences of Bailey’s early days. 

Then, turning hazy and trance-like, “It’s All So Incredibly Loud” showcases similar instrumentation to Alt-J. Later on comes the single “Heat Waves,” something Bailey describes as Glass Animals version of a love song, but in a messed up way. Which leads us to “Helium,” the final track and submission of guilt from Bailey. Easily audible in his voice, it slowly changes in order to create the closure needed for both the singer and the album. 

Overall, Dreamland is a vehicle which expresses honest emotions and the experiences from the silence after admitting lack of love. Providing additional intrigue, Dave Bailey looks into his own traumas growing up with intricate lyrics that express a sincere and introspective poetic journey. Deep, and at times dark, Glass Animals’ dreamy yet beautiful electronic sounds play akin to the mood of each song. More atmospheric than ever, Cryptic Rock gives Dreamland 4.5 out of 5 stars.  

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