Jun 09, 2014 Issue #50 - June/July 2014 - Future Islands
For the last couple of years, Oxford-via-London quartet Glass Animals has wooed listeners with a steady stream of singles and remixes. "Psylla" and "Black Mambo" exhibited a sound somewhere between the dark, enveloping trip-hop of Massive Attack and weirdo groove-makers Alt-J. "Gooey" came along later, and rolled a scintillating R&B vibe into the musical compound; it was like a raunchy Miguel cut, but way too heady and British to fall far outside Radiohead's spectrum of influence. ZABA, their full-length debut, sounds immediately familiar but implacable. It's sleek, sexy, and irrefutably odd.
Glass Animals' characterizing mark is their tremendous production skills. Frontman David Bayley self-produced the album, and filled every tiny gap in the mix with wet, sticky electronica. While true of much music, ZABA is a record that begs to be heard on a quality pair of speakers or headphones. (Really, your laptop will make garbage of these dense tracks.) There are maybe only three seconds of silence across the entire record, as the songs slide into one another without breaking; you might not find a more impeccably wrought indie pop LP in 2014.
Lyrically, though, is where you'll brace against a few potentially maddening eccentricities. While the vibe is constantly seductive, the words being cooed are almost undivided in their obliqueness. If you listen closely enough, the lyrics are weird to the point where they're almost distracting; just try to piece sense from lines like "Back lashing with a bullet full of love/Makes papa want to crawl up his old truck" ("Psylla"). It's not even clear whether "Gooey"—which contains the wacky come-on "ride my little Pooh Bear"—is referring to bodily excretions or peanut butter. Still, while the things they're saying may be unorthodox, the way they're saying them is rather unique. It'll be hard not to dance along. (www.glass-animals.tumblr.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
Average reader rating: 9/10
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