Best new music: Glass Animals “How to Be a Human Being”



Kelly Moran

For the past few weeks, I have been blasting Glass Animals’ sophomore album, “How to Be a Human Being,” loudly and on repeat (shout out to my roommate for putting up with me.) I’m hooked. Released in Aug., this UK band’s colorful album brings together the best of electronic and alt-pop/rock to create a sound so innovative, I can’t help but crave more. It’s worth every ounce of praise its been receiving. Add this one to your playlist, because it has my vote for best new music going into fall 2016.  

“How to Be a Human Being” strays from the bands debut sound on “ZABA” (think eclectic, dark, trippy hipster house music) and instead brings the raw intricacies of humanity to the forefront of the album. It’s witty, inspired and catchy. The theme of the album revolves around people and their stories. Every track is inspired by a person the band knows or has met, and each character is pictured on the album cover art. It falls on the listener to determine which song corresponds to which character. I think this lyrical game of “connect the dots” is unique and adds an interactive element to the work. 

My top three tracks from the album are “Season 2 Episode 3,” “Mama’s Gun” and “Agnes.” “Season 2 Episode 3” revolves around a woman who lounges all day in her pajamas, watching TV and getting high. She is lazy. Besides the satirical edge to the lyrics, blips and bleeps of retro video games permeate the modern electronic sound, grab the listener and place him in the world of the woman in the song.  

“Mama’s Gun” is one of those songs that gives you chills. It’s a dark and haunting track that focuses on mental health. The character struggles with her own mental health (“Was that your voice or was it just me?”) and is uncertain of her actions. She thinks she or someone else has hurt, maybe even murdered, her husband, but has no way of knowing, which is what scares her the most. The track samples a song called “Mr. Guder” by the Carpenters. Karen Carpenter, one half of the duo, struggled with her mental health and died in 1983 due to heart complications from chronic anorexia. In a Facebook post, the band explained their choice to sample, as well as the need for increased mental health awareness. The story behind the lyrics as well as the person who inspired them is fascinating.

“Agnes” is the last track on the album and my favorite out of them all. It’s different in tone and rhythm than the other 11 tracks, but it makes for a very special ending to the diverse story the album tells. Like “Mama’s Gun” it focuses on mental illness. It is approached from the eyes of the struggling person. It’s beautiful and dreamy, despite lines like “you see the sad in everything/ a genius of love and loneliness/ this time you overdid the liquor/ this time you pulled the trigger.” I could feel the desperation in the speaker, but above all, I could feel his unwavering love. It’s breathtaking.

This album is a lyrical trip through the many different facets of humanity from the mundane to the heart-breaking. By the end of it, I felt like I had just met 11 different people, some of whom reminded me of characters in my own life. The genius behind the album is its unwavering ability to capture life at different angles. It proves we’re more similar than not, and no matter who you are or what you’re going through, there’s a song out there that shows that you’re not alone. So light your pumpkin scented candles, grab a cup of hot chocolate, and hit play on “How to Be a Human Being,” because albums like these don’t come around very often.