Photo Credit to slantmagazine Article by Stephanie Escobar
I'd been following Glass Animals through their Instagram as front-man Dave Bayley updated fans on new music and living life through quarantine. A band that relied on being on the road to connect with fans and play their music had to get creative in other ways to interact online. It included Bayley shooting music videos from home. Followed by an open source website where fans could experiment with artwork, a newsletter to fans, a Dream Machine to encourage screen detox and collective dreaming, and lastly asking for 3D head scans from fans for a music video. There were even some quarantine covers where Bayley did renditions of Drake's “Heart-Shaped Box” and Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful”.
All this leading up to the release of their third full length album “Dreamland”, almost four years apart since the release of their critically acclaimed album “How To Be A Human Being”. With an in between release of “Tokyo Drifting” ft Denzel Curry in 2019, many fans were itching for the anticipated new album. This album comes with struggle for the band as Bayley shared on cutting their last tour short, allowing their band member Joe to recover from a near fatal accident, pushing this album back twice, cancelling the remainder of their 2020 tour and now handling a release through this pandemic. Nonetheless it’s been a journey for them, and now they’re here to share their outcome to bring people together through a time where it’s been quite hard to be.
Photo Credit to Glass Animals
Bayley shared a sentimental post a day prior to the release and also shared these instructions on how to listen to their new album. So I gathered what I needed, got comfy and mentally prepared myself to finally listen to “Dreamland”. Here’s how it went:
Dreamland is an autobiography which shares personal stories and a reflection of life. Songs about friendship, heartache and longing. In an interview with NME, Bayley had shared how their song ‘Agnes'' was a turning point for the band to explore their own feelings. A death of a close friend by suicide influced this song and got a reaction from fans that they didn’t expect. Fans resonated with the message and they saw the impact they had.
“I’ve always been really, really afraid to write about myself. I always thought it was selfish.” - Dave Bayley on NME
Their track “Dreamland” starts off with soft and mellow vocals and arpeggios imitating a trance of falling into a dream state. An emotional downpour of feelings through complicated and expressive verses. Immediately you're thrown into “Tangerine” which fills your body with a bounce of pop infused beats as Bayley sings about a crumbling relationship.
The album is peppered with home movies inbetween songs, which are snippets from Bayley’s childhood. A personal touch where it shares playful sounds that can be found throughout the end of some of the songs.
Tackling tough topics such as school shootings “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” shares a story of a friend Bayley had when he lived in the States. They had lost touch but Bayley had found out that his friend was caught planning a school shooting. The song lyrically explores remembering that childhood friendship and vivid imagery of what it would be like to visit that person in prison: “I said to you, ‘Why did you do it?’ / Touch the glass, I’ll feel ya through it / Against the wall, with the bracelets on / You look bizarre, in the apricot”.
Moving forward with tracks such as ‘Your Love (Déjà Vu)” and “Tokyo Drifting” were both singles released before “Dreamland”. While both being some of their more fast tempo tracks the genre-splicing is evident. “Tokyo Drifting” has hip-hop infused beats and ``Your Love (Déjà Vu)” being a pop classic. Tracks such as “Melon and the Coconut” and “Waterfalls Coming Out your Mouth” remind me a lot of Bayley’s references to fruit and foods in older songs giving them a persona and offering meaning through it.
Listening to the last four tracks on the album was quite emotional. “It’s All So Incredibly Loud” perfectly describes the silence when we get gut wrenching news. Bayley sings “Whispers would deafen me now / You don’t make a sound / Heartbreak was never so loud”. A song that truly gave me goosebumps. This emotional journey continues with “Domestic Bliss” as it’s told through Bayley’s eyes as he witnessed his friend’s mom in an abusive relationship, which he told NME.
“Heat Waves” being my favorite track shares high energy instrumentals through melancholy vocals about longing and being vulnerable. Bayley shared on instagram how the “Heat Waves” music video was a love letter to live music, the culture and togetherness surrounding it. It was filmed at the peak of everything shutting down with the help of his friends in his neighborhood; they had filmed clips on their phones for the video.
“Helium” brings us back full circle to the beginning track, while still being very different. A poetic representation of a relationship but being vague enough that honestly it’s open to interpretation for everybody. It’s nostalgic as the beat changes and we’re brought back to the soft and mellow vocals and scale arpeggios imitating a trance of falling into a dream state from the first track “Dreamland”
I can't help but listen to this album and just imagine it being played at future festivals once we can attend them again. “Dreamland” embodies summer time through it’s stylistic sounds while being poetically diverse through the stories it tells. You won't want to leave Dreamland once you’ve entered.