Glass Animals is a band name that is synonymous with the world-wide hit ‘Heat Waves’, which took out top spot in the infamous battle for the 2020 Triple J Hottest 100, but oh these guys are so much more than that though… Here’s why you need to get acquainted with one of the most quirky, yet accessible, indie-pop exports out there.


Glass Animals embarked on their musical career with their debut album ZABA, and the tactile sounds of their breakout hit ‘Gooey’. The single really is the best use of onomatopoeia. The song sounds sticky, highly viscous, and well… gooey. It is a type of rhythmic molasses that slowly works its way into your body, like a true ear-worm. The opening verse announces the physical state of this track, with the lines; “While my naked fool / Fresh out of an icky, gooey womb / A woozy youth / Dopes up on her silky, smooth perfume”.  More unique quips take place in the pre-chorus, with the unforgettable line “You just want to know these peanut butter vibes”, and we sure do, who wouldn’t want to know what that really translates to.



As an album, ZABA takes its time, but always delivers. Glass Animals is all about layered sounds, these guys are true sonic landscapers, working with discernment and refinement, crafting something unique, yet not far out of reach for the casual listener. It is captivating through the use of unusual percussive instruments and varied timbres, yet comes back to hallmarks of R&B, to ground us. Many textures are sprinkled throughout this album, and its pleasure comes from finding the ones that itch your brain in a certain way. ZABA is more subdued than their sophomore album, but it holds such great space with its presence and underlying sleuthing mood. ZABA is a neon-soaked night in the jungle, with many moments of animal emulating sounds, and ambient fixtures that cannot be slept on.

Another highlight from the debut includes ‘Pools’, which sonically builds to a lucid crescendo. The track leads in nicely with some ambient jungle sounds, and then glassy tubular bells lead us into curiosity before the drum foundation is laid. The song enlists a bold bass rhythm to build the track in a thematically linear fashion, until we get great resolve in the chorus. The resolve, with its contrastingly jangly keys, is what hooks you in on this one. The chorus lyrics are emotive and full of wonder, “Shake my little soul for you now, toy / And I settle up into a world of noise / I’m a man of many tricks and tools and joy / With a battery of guilt on which to poise”. The reprise of “I smile because I want to” has this hopeful joy that feels omnipresent, a neat feeling and perfect way to see the song out.

‘Hazey’ is the sibling of ‘Gooey’, more so than just rhyming by name. ‘Hazey’ is once again true to its title, sounding ever so slightly lower fidelity in the bass notes, to give an opaque effect. It’s the liquid dripping sounds, paired with the subtle persistent tambourine dashes, that really mesmerize you as the track grows. The choruses embellish nicely with the vocal echo reprise that widens on subsequent passages. It’s always the subtleties with Glass Animals that deserve the appreciation, for it’s such a aural experience, often the listener finding new highlights with further play throughs.

Moving into their 2nd album How To Be A Human Being, and Glass Animals establish themselves as a playful unit, who is always looking for the most colourful ways to bring emotions, experiences, and ultimately stories to auditory-life.  Opening with ‘Life Itself’ we are initially met with a traditional Chinese string instrument, if only momentarily, before being thrust into a more traditional drum and bass foundation that features a rattling chain to give it a classic Glass Animals textual touch. The band asserts the tone of the album immediately, with hints at indie pop of a more angular style, compared to the R&B centered predecessor. Each track darts in various directions one might not expect, which makes for quite an engaging listen. And of course, we get illustrative and colourful lines like, “Thought that I was northern Camden’s own Flash Gordon / Sonic ray gun, gonna be a superstar”. How fun.

‘Youth’ is one of the best tracks from How To Be A Human Being, it’s such a yearning and nostalgic feeling track, with its nods to joy and freedom throughout the lyrics. The lines “I want you to be happy / Free to run, get dizzy on caffeine / Funny friends that make you laugh / And maybe you’re just a little bit dappy” make up the pre-chorus, setting the tone for its layered and emphatic sounding chorus. The choruses have numerous vocal layered tracks, which makes it feel unrestrained and free to express. It would almost be considered a blissful listening experience.



The album features constant use of early 90s digital age sound bites, like VCR, tape effects, and Gameboy tones which seems to be synonymous with Dave’s desired style, which is this fantastic cross section with sounds of his childhood and the now. ‘Pork Soda’ opens with a glitchy “be-bop” that sets the quirky aesthetic of the track. Dave seems to have a way of taking seemingly mundane items and elevating their existence to mean something greater, perhaps by associating them with human emotions. For example, the infamous line “Pineapples are in my head” has become synonymous with the band, leading the pineapple to become almost a symbol among fan groups. What does it mean? Well, we don’t explicitly know, but there is a vibe transcribed clearly on the track. With a treasure trove of neat little quips, it is fun for the audience to ascribe their own meaning to these odd notions found in Glass Animals’ music.

‘Agnes’ is the unsung hero of the album though. Its intimate soundscape and heart- throbbing story really gets you and is a perfect closer for the album. It starts with triads of beeps and bloops, perhaps representing a spaceship, then there are the melancholic piano keys added to set the scene for something tender. “You’re gone but you’re on my mind / I’m lost but I don’t know why?” really hits you in the feels, its suddenly a clear song about loss and still feeling that connection to someone. This song is also of note purely for the video that accompanies it, its simplicity, yet visceral depiction of the song’s sentiment is really integral to enjoying the single. The video takes place with Dave Bayley inside a centrifuge, spinning around with G-forces acting on him during the peaks of the choruses, showcasing a physical representation of the pain and suffering that Dave is feeling at the loss of his friend. This song is arguably their most personal song to date, as it deals with the subject of suicide and does so in a slightly subtle fashion, and in a typical Glass Animals sounding way.



Glass Animals found the mainstream on their lockdown album, Dreamland. Back in 2020, this album got many people through some tough times, and the song ‘Heat Waves’ was just the beginning. Dreamland features more of Dave’s nostalgic bending sounds, as he weaves samples from old home video tapes as a sort of reoccurring motif throughout the body of work. The aesthetic is neon lights and various shades of magenta and cyan, as the band produced many visuals for this particular album, whether it was music videos or simply the digital artwork used for various formats, it was a very fun and engaging album experience. It is worth checking out the likes of their Instagram for all their fan art and extra pieces of content that the band promotes there.

The title track as the opener is such a wonderful experience, its dreamy, and establishes some themes that are continually weaved throughout the album. The song is about reminiscing on the past, and the yearning for the future, “Pullin’ down backstreets, deep in your head / Slippin’ through dreamland like a tourist”. The album in fact is largely a kind of coming-of-age reflection. Again, the title song is another that is aided so well with the music video, a homemade effort from Dave during the lockdown. The video shows his innovative prowess and his creative versatility in being able to confidently direct a film.

The album is essentially split up into chapters of Dave’s life, with sections showcasing different phases, key realisations, lessons, and experiences (often relatable), that are tastefully saturated over with imaginative lyricism. Dave dabbles in some trap beats and electronic production techniques. Songs like ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast’ and ‘Hot Sugar’ showcase these new stylistic integrations. However, its ‘Tokyo Drifting’ where we get the hottest take of this adoption, as Dave employs none other than Denzel Curry to drop some killer bars on the bass drop. The song has this unexpected attitude, that really asserts itself as a brash persona that is easy to love. Naturally, it is the kind of song that would go pretty hard on a driving playlist.



In terms of clever track titles that align with personifications and certain experiences, examples range from ‘Melon and a Coconut’ which is referring to a pairing which is similar, yet not the same and ultimately, not the perfect fit. ‘Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth’ is a way of describing someone who always spouts things that aren’t true or is useless information. Then perhaps the most obvious use of this effect is the song ‘It’s All So Incredibly Loud’ which depicts the moment of heartbreak, and how intense the experience is, portraying the intensity via sound. The track does such a great job at morphing in a distinct linear fashion that builds up the volume as it grows and becomes a textural wall of sound by the end of the song.

‘Heat Waves’ of course is such a vibe and can’t not be mentioned. It’s Glass Animals’ biggest hit to date, with over 2 billion streams. Its catchy 808s and underwater sounding synth leads give it this mirage effect that works well against the name. The phonetics of the chorus opening line is just so damn catchy, and unforgettable, “Sometimes all I think about is you / Late nights in the middle of June”. A simple song in its sentiment, and groove which keeps you hooked for subsequent play throughs. Definitely one to check out and add to any decent party playlist immediately.



Overall, Glass Animals are all about niche mood execution, through unique texture application, homemade sounds, and bringing a playful approach to the mundane to tell human stories. They have carved out a space for themselves in the industry by trying out new sounds and pushing layered production boundaries, while still remaining accessible to many audiences. They have created such a colourful palette of sounds to choose from, so check them out, before their new album I Love You So Fucking Much comes out 19th July.