Few things are harder in music than putting out a successful second LP. The tightrope act of maintaining a sonic signature while breaking new ground can seem next to impossible, particularly after a band has put every ounce of creative might into getting their first record noticed. This can be especially difficult for indie bands that arrived on the scene with very unique, distinctive sounds, as Glass Animals undoubtedly did on tracks such as “Gooey” and “Black Mambo” in their 2014 debut LP Zaba. Upon my first listen to their new album, How to Be A Human Being, it became more than clear that my fears about Glass Animal’s bridge into maturity will all for naught. The record displays incredible sonic and lyrical depth, as well as a dynamism that departs periodically and tastefully from Zaba while still retaining the core sound that we all first fell in love with.
The album begins with its three radio singles, which ultimately give preview to what I think are the biggest achievements of the band with this record. “Life Itself,” the album’s lead single, shows a completeness and pop sensibility that represent a notable growth from “Gooey,” while still maintaining the dancey, hard-hitting, (dare I say sexy) groove that has come to define their sound. The next track, “Youth,” previews the distinctly **Human** aspect of How To Be A Human Being, featuring guitar-forward instrumentals and less doctored vocals. This track, and others like it, leaves me particularly excited to catch Glass Animals on the road when they tour this record. The last of the singles, “Season 2 Episode 3,” is a very fun representation of how the band’s synth sensibilities have grown tremendously, and been deployed in many more dynamic ways.
In my opinion, the album really shows its strength in how consistent the quality stays once one gets through singles. Furthermore, the band displays incredible sonic variety while maintaining their signature sound. “Cane Shuga” pays sonic homage to Daft Punk’s “Doin’ it Right,” “Poplar St.” plays as straightforward four-piece punk, the interlude, “[Premade Sandwiches]” is a goddamn a capella rap, and the final track, “Agnes,” will tug at every heart-string you’ve got. They all, along with every other track on the album, manage to make unique contributions to the record while working well together to establish what we can now identify as Glass Animal’s signature sound. Having produced such a top-notch second LP, we can count on that sound being here to stay.