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Glass Animals - Dreamland (Album Review)

Wednesday, 12 August 2020 Written by Spencer Lawes

“Wavey Davey’s on fire,” Dave Bayley proclaims on Tokyo Drifting, the Denzel Curry-assisted lead single from Glass Animals’ third album, and he has a point. The eccentric frontman tackled a formidable range of styles on 2014’s ‘Zaba’ and 2016’s Mercury-nominated ‘How to be a Human Being’, but on ‘Dreamland’ the diversity found in his vocal personas is turned up to 11.

On Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which is about a close friend back in Texas who tried to take a gun to school, Bayley gets as close to rap as he ever has, inspired by a childhood obsession with Dr. Dre. The style suits him so well, though, that the whole album could have been built around it. Instead, he shifts dramatically from track to track, adopting genre flourishes that are best suited to that story, from high-pitched, rolling harmonies on album closer Helium to bubblegum pop on the highly addictive Tangerine.

Bayley’s performance aside, ‘Dreamland’ improves on Glass Animals’ well-recieved previous albums by adding a personal, intimate touch.

Beneath the flawless production and the catchy hooks is an undercurrent of sadness. Nostalgia-inducing ‘90s callbacks paint a rose-tinted version of Bayley’s American upbringing, yet there is always the sense these memories are conjured with regretful longing.  

Both thematically and musically, the album covers challenging and interesting ground. Domestic Bliss focuses on a young Bayley witnessing domestic abuse in a friend’s home. The final, hype-building single, It’s All So Incredibly Loud, explores the silent seconds after devastating words have been said. It is a complex beast that builds to an orchestra-backed crescendo powerful enough for any action set piece.

Despite Bayley juggling these introspective lyrics with a wider variety of vocal inspirations, his performance is almost faultless. He owns each track, stamping confidence and swagger all over them. However, the prospective deep dives into troubling memories are more of a toe-dipping exercise. They are largely surface level, especially on the forgettable Melon and the Coconut.

‘Dreamland’ finishes as it starts, with an askew mirroring of the brilliant eponymous opener. As it ends, it’s clear that this is many things—an amazing road-trip soundtrack, a batch of club bangers and the ideal house party playlist for anyone who remembers the ‘90s. Wavey Davey is well and truly on fire.

Glass Animals Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun May 16 2021 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Mon May 17 2021 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Wed May 19 2021 - MANCHESTER O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester
Fri May 21 2021 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Sat May 22 2021 - GLASGOW Barrowland Ballroom
Sun May 23 2021 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Tue May 25 2021 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Wed May 26 2021 - LONDON Alexandra Palace

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