In an interview with front man Dave Bayley, conducted by Howl & Echoes, Bayley states that the premise of the album was “a combination of autobiography and made up [stories]”. With the knowledge that How to Be A Human Being is the product of the real and unreal, it comes across as no shock that the latest release should be turbulent. Straying close to their moniker, the album is embodied by primal parties and yet with slivers of vulnerability, completing their set of releases all the way from their first LP, ZABA.
How to Be A Human Being’s lyrical merit derives, a sort, from the new millennial tragedy, set upon the backdrop of the vintage-inspired harmony. “In Life Itself,” the track goes through the depressing state of a stay at home son who “can’t get a job, so [he] live[s] with [his] mom” who declares, “[Mom] says I look fat but I look fantastic.” “Pork Soda” tunes about a failed relationship and how he “got nobody cuz [he’s] brain dead”. “Take A Slice” glorifies the drug-infested age with words of “Stewing in the black dope/ I’m filthy and I love it”. “Season 2 Episode 3” chants about a girlfriend who is all fun and games, to the point where her partner becomes sick of her TV watching and childish lifestyle. For the millennial, it’s difficult to deny the sense of relativity that this LP offers lyrically, all the while set to a rhythm which entices deep dancing.
The LP is sonically driven so close to band’s first release that if placed at the end of the ZABA, no one could hardly tell the difference. However, How to Be A Human Being draws from stylistic influences past that make the album all over the place. “Season 2 Episode 3” is a prime example: the track is set upon video game sound effects and NES-like organ melodies, complete with a nursery rhyme-esque chorus and a trappy beat that plays with this fun atmosphere. The musicality of the track definitely evokes a sense of childhood nostalgia, complementing the song’s lyrics (about the immature girlfriend). “Mama’s Gun” evokes a feeling seemingly from the Magical Mystery Tour, a song that is mysterious with cryptic verbage, “little voices, buzzin poision”, over an ominous flute melody. The song exhibits a questionable cat yowl and owl hoots, consistent to the primal animal theme, and building up to an orchestral climax (with addition of a slightly demonic). “Cane Shuga” and “The Other Side of Paradise” resemble 2000’s Justin Timberlake with their R&B reminiscent premise and simple, catchy choruses. “Take A Slice” and “Poplar St” take heavily from The Black Keys/The White Stripes blues, complete with charming electric guitar riffs. “[Premade Sandwiches],” the LP’s intermission, reminds one of Radiohead with its 36 second long spoken word piece, vocalized through a heavy, deep voice-altering filter. Finally, “Agnes” finishes the How to be a Human Being with a return of the worldly instrumentation and uplifting major chord progression and the needed deceleration for the album’s meandering manner.
How to Be A Human Being takes its audiences through many facets promised, and some: the human experience of worthlessness, confidence, heartbreak, and pleasure. Glass Animals, in a way, has outdone their previous album through their exploration of not only their own style but other artists’ as well. Combining the musicality with the strangeness of their world, Glass Animals creates the intriguing stories that make up How to Be A Human Being. Glass Animals exhibits a newly found maturity in sound and in a sort of life-like reflection.