The highly anticipated third studio album from UK band, Glass Animals has finally arrived, and it is proving to be their best work to date. Dreamland serves as a personal memoir for the band, blossoming from the aftermath of a horrendous accident involving drummer Joe Seaward and the uncertainty that followed. Nearly fatal, the group was faced with one of the most difficult challenges anyone could ever experience, though upon a miraculous recovery they have reunited to release an album unlike any other before.
Citing influence from his childhood memories, lead singer Dave Bayley has admitted this may have been the most difficult, yet rewarding album to write. Opening with the title track “Dreamland”, listeners are immediately transported into an ambient atmosphere built upon beautifully crafted synths and strings. Posing questions to be answered throughout the length of the album, “Dreamland” serves as the perfect introduction into the otherworldly climate of the record. Then comes the extremely catchy, pop driven track “Tangerine”, destined to be stuck in your head for hours upon end. Co-written with songwriter Starrah, Bayley explains “the lyrics and the sounds nod to youth and naivety” on Spotify, though what truly completes this song is the shouts and WOAHs recorded from real kids living on his street in London.
Seamless, stunning transitions incorporated throughout the album add a great deal to the listening experience. Snippets of Bayley’s own home movies from his childhood provide a glimpse into the nostalgia experienced upon writing these tracks. Following “((home movies: 1994))” is the hypnotising, synth driven dream of “Hot Sugar”. It’s Bayley’s clever vocals that will drag you into this track, singing lyrics of “hotels and alcohol, pool paintings on the wall”. This song creates a visionary paradise that seems to become a recurring theme on the record: escapism within one’s own mind.
Quite possibly the darkest track on the record comes “Space Ghost Coast To Coast”. Mixed by the incredibly talented MixedByAli (Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar), this song brings hints of nostalgia along with an irresistible guitar riff and hip hop styled beats. Aside from the sonically different mix, “Space Ghost Coast To Coast” explores one of the most difficult themes on the album as a whole. It is reminiscent of the times with one of Bayley’s childhood friends, one that made a turn for the worse upon their growth apart. Disbelief floods the questions presented throughout, from “where’d you get the gun from, ay?” to “were you bored of gender norms, of being alone, no mama home?” A clouded memory of who they used to be is flooded by the horrific acts they have committed.
Watch the official music video for ‘Dreamland’ here:
The undeniably strong single “Tokyo Drifting” featuring Denzel Curry comes to follow as Glass Animals dives head first into their rap influences. As the first single from the album, fans raved over the new sound, even picking up the line “wavey davey’s on fire” to flaunt on social media. “Melon and the Coconut” on the contrary is a lowkey, experimental track exploring a breakup scene between two lovers portrayed as fruit. Ending on the buzz of an incoming phone call, the track leads into the second single off of the album, “Your Love (Deja Vu)”. Explained by Bayley on the band’s Spotify, the song is about “being addicted to something self-destructive”. This chaotic state is reflected within the sounds of the song as well, from lust driven vocals to insanely catchy guitar riffs.
Kicking off the B side of the record is the loud yet incredibly clever “Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth.” An instant fan favorite from the most in-your-face lyrics on the album, this song goes through a series of changes in tempo and melody, also making it one of the most unique tracks on the record. Following is the final single from the album, “It’s All So Incredibly Loud”. A beautifully crafted anthem of the heartbreak found in silence, the track builds to an ambient explosion of synths and strings. Flawlessly transitioning between tracks comes another home movie, this time built with elegant strings and lofi drum beats into the heart wrenching track “Domestic Bliss”. In juxtaposition to the title, the song presents a battle of domestic violence and the observations made from the eyes of a child.
As the album nears a conclusion, “Heat Waves” presents a catchy, dance tune masking the heartbreaking lyrics dealing with acceptance at the end of a relationship. Seemingly one of the most relevant topics in the album, relationships are further explored in Dreamland’s concluding track “Helium”. Bayley explains the track as “confusing and fluid and uncertain. And it is meant to represent life in that way.” Bringing the album to a close, the piano melody heard in the opening track “Dreamland” is reprised in a new key, and a young Bayley sends us off with a quiet little “bye bye.”