Glass Animals
You may have heard "Heat Waves," one of Glass Animals' biggest hits, but the band has so much more music, from slow, somber sounds to songs you can workout to. (Illustration by Amber Duan, Pratt Institute)

Glass Animals Is a Band With More To Offer Than Just Their Popular Hits

This indie group might be known for a few specific songs, but they have so many unique, underrated gems in their discography.

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Glass Animals

This indie group might be known for a few specific songs, but they have so many unique, underrated gems in their discography.

Although Glass Animals has been on the come up during the pandemic, this glorious indie band is still not getting the love it deserves. Kicking off their music journey in 2014 with their first album, “ZABA,” Glass Animals is still a relatively new group. So, what makes the band so special, and why do mass audiences need to dig deeper than just the handful of most popular hits?

Glass Animals: Who Are They?

Who makes up the Glass Animals? Originating in Oxford, the band is a group of four guys who have been friends since they were kids. This lifelong bond may be just one of the reasons Glass Animals is able to reach new creative and musical heights. The group is led by Dave Bayley, the lead vocalist who has spearheaded the creation of all their albums. The other three members include Edmund Irwin-Singer on bass, Drew MacFarlane on guitar and Joe Seaward on drums. All together, these four use just the foundational musical instruments necessary for a band, yet they manage to go above and beyond, creating songs that are unlike any other band or artist.

“ZABA”

Let’s go back to their roots by taking a look at Glass Animals’ first album, “ZABA,” released nearly eight years ago. It consists of 11 songs, all of which are nothing short of psychedelic — a truly trippy experience. “ZABA” perfectly represents Glass Animals as a band and their wholly unique style. Listeners who take on “ZABA” will find an album full of interesting, psychedelic beats that don’t just consist of the typical “bam bam bam.

Instead, Glass Animals’ beats have a rhythm that is accompanied by unconventional sounds like snapping or popping. Although the band maintains their trademark sound throughout all three of their albums, “ZABA” highlights their frequent use of chime-like sounds that create an alluringly unusual, Zen experience. As their first album, “ZABA” is also the debut of Bayley’s lyrical talents; Glass Animals’ fun, bouncy lyrics are arguably one of the most popular aspects of the band.

Some of their most beloved songs display such quirky lyrics: For example, on the most well-known song on “ZABA,” “Gooey,” Bayley kicks off the chorus: “Right, my little pooh bear, wanna take a chance? / Wanna sip the smooth air, kick it in the sand / I’d say I told you so but you just gonna cry / You just wanna know those peanut butter vibes.” Cute phrases like “pooh bear” and “peanut butter vibes” let Glass Animals take on that endearing quality that’s given them deserved attention as of late. Paired with intense visuals like “Wanna sip the smooth air,” they create a sensual experience that isn’t soon forgotten. These lyrics are made even more hypnotic when leaving Bayley’s lips: He has a raspy, airy and soothing voice that breathes life into these words, giving Glass Animals that magic quality that deserves even more love.

While “Gooey” is understandably a triumph, looking past the most widely known songs for ones that are more obscure will make for a rewarding experience. Regarding “ZABA,” there is a beautiful spectrum of songs that can either soothe or make for a great workout listen. If more soothing vibes are your goal, lesser-known pieces like “Toes,” “Pools” and “Flip” are some of the most hypnotic, yet calming listens to bless your ears.

On the other end of the spectrum, songs like “Walla Walla” and “Hazey” are pieces with thrilling beats that reverberate through your body. They’re excellent for working out or driving — especially when going to the beach. Overall, “ZABA” may be Glass Animals’ first album, but it’s by no means a lesser product in comparison to their more recent work. Starting with “ZABA” is the perfect way to really understand the band and to explore their more discreet masterpieces.

“How To Be a Human Being”

2016 brought the release of Glass Animals’ second album, “How To Be a Human Being.” As seen from the album’s name, another charming characteristic of the indie band is their ability to think outside of the box when it comes to song and album names. Their second album specifically highlights one of their greatest messages, which is the value of radiating positivity, compassion and good vibes.

The two most popular songs on the album are “The Other Side of Paradise” and “Take A Slice.” These songs are justifiably popular and still deserve many listens. However, to stop at just these two songs would be doing yourself and “How To Be a Human Being” a disservice. “Life Itself” is one of the most beautiful Glass Animals songs to exist; it’s a thrilling, loud and upbeat listen. On top of that, it’s a relatable song that discusses the tumultuous journey through life while taking on societal judgments and pressures.

“Youth” is another grossly underrated piece. Similarly upbeat, it has a fun, bouncy melody that’s accompanied by equally springy, yet impactful lyrics. Combined, these elements perfectly represent youth itself. “Season 2 Episode 3” and “Cane Shuga” are among the quirkiest pieces — songs that especially highlight Glass Animals as an out-of-the-ordinary group that continues to push the boundaries of music. “Cane Shuga” in particular is a magnetic, odd listen with an addicting beat that hooks listeners.

Of all these songs, “Mama’s Gun” is arguably the most underrated. While somber doesn’t describe Glass Animals at all, “Mama’s Gun” could still be considered one of their most somber songs, relatively speaking. It is also one of the most hypnotizing listens; as Glass Animals often does in an artful way, the song moves in waves, transitioning alluringly from slow and soft sounds to sudden, louder sections that feel like a tsunami. Another trait that makes the band so special is their use of animal sounds to accompany more traditional beats and melodies: “Mama’s Gun” has owl-like sounds that contribute to its solemn tones and mesmerizing nature.

Bayley’s ever-captivating lyrics also add to the semi-somber, soul-connecting quality of “Mama’s Gun,” with lines like, “In the summer silence / I was getting violent / In the summer silence / I was doing nothing.” Lines like these clearly depart from the typical bubbly Glass Animals lyrics, yet “Mama’s Gun” is still one of those non-hits that deserves more attention.

Latest Works

In 2020, Glass Animals released their third and most recent album, “Dreamland.” It’s also the album that has brought the indie band more attention. If you’ve tracked Glass Animals’ monthly listener count on Spotify throughout the past year, you’ll have found that the band has attracted millions of new listeners.

In fact, from their album debut in 2014 to now, Glass Animals have gone from an unknown to Spotify’s 59th most listened-to artist in the entire world. Still, much of this popularity comes from just a handful of hits rather than the entire catalog of Glass Animals songs awaiting the meticulous listener. I’d argue that Glass Animals deserve even more love and attention — adoration that should stem from their lesser-known works.

Regarding “Dreamland,” “Heat Waves” is objectively the most popular Glass Animals song of all time. It has over a billion listens on Spotify and is revered among younger generations. Yes, “Heat Waves” is a catchy, awesome song. But just like “ZABA” and “How To Be a Human Being,” “Dreamland” has many other obscure gems to offer. “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” is a sick song with quirky sounds, soul-reverberating beats and odd lyrics that represent Glass Animals in a nutshell. “Your Love (Déjà Vu)” is a personal favorite and one of the catchiest songs that Glass Animals has ever created.

“Tokyo Drifting” is also an underrated, fun listen on “Dreamland”; this song features Denzel Curry and highlights some of Glass Animals’ R&B inspirations. “Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth” and “It’s All So Incredibly Loud” are among the more unconventional, boundary-pushing songs on the album. “It’s All So Incredibly Loud” in particular is one of the more somber Glass Animals songs to exist. Its style and sound are reminiscent of an older gem, “Mama’s Gun,” bringing a healthy dose of nostalgia with it.

Just in 2021, Glass Animals has released a new single, “I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance).” This song improves upon the typical Glass Animals bouncy, fun feeling that oozes sunshine vibes. With “Dreamland” and “I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance),” it’s clear that Glass Animals is not slowing down. They’re finally starting to get some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve for having a cutting-edge style and addictive, mesmerizing sound.

And while their greatest hits are, of course, must-listens, this group has so many more songs to offer: So, listen to them the right way by digging through all of their pieces. As someone who has personally obsessed over Glass Animals for years, I’m still finding more magic in this band.

Writer Profile

Sonia Noorbakhsh

UC Berkeley
English

Hello! My name is Sonia. I have always loved anything pertaining to English. In my free time I enjoy traveling, reading and drinking plenty of coffee.

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