So I have a hilarious story for you guys. And by hilarious I mean not funny, somewhat ironic, and possibly a little embarrassing but I have no shame. I actually wrote half this post in February. And then I got distracted by this thing called school/work/triathlon/life and literally stopped mid-sentence. It happens. So naturally I trashed the whole thing and started over.
As always, the following post was churned out in maybe an hour tops and hasn’t been proof read. Shoutout to the people who text me with a list of my errors when a post goes up, you guys (Alexandra) are the real MVPs.
Album: Zaba Artist: Glass Animals
So who are Glass Animals? I’m not exactly sure to be honest. My first exposure to them was from the one and only Alexandra, because who else keeps me up to date on what’s coming out? Let’s face it. If it weren’t for her and 90.3 The Rock, I’d be stuck in 1996 (which was a GREAT year for music). I remember she got in my car and was like, “Dude listen to this!” (not her exact words, but I gave you the clean version). And then we listened to “Gooey” and I still can’t really tell you what hit me. All I know is I went home and downloaded the album and bought concert tickets not too many months later.
But really. Who are Glass Animals? I wish someone would tell me because really all I know is that they’re from Oxford, England and their lead singer, Dave Bayley, studied neuroscience or something along those lines. Literally, their Wikipedia page looks like this:
So despite the fact that I scoured the internet and watched a lot of interviews and still can’t tell you squat about the band, I can tell you about their album. Which is I guess why I’m here anyway.
Zaba was released on June 6th, 2014 in the UK by Wolf Tone, which is “super-producer” Paul Epworth’s label. Not kidding — he’s produced everyone from Adele to Florence + The Machine to Coldplay to someone nobody had heard of until Kanye called Paul McCartney (hopefully you picked up on that sarcasm). The album was released about a week and a half later in the US of A on June 17th. I think. At the concert — that I saw on Wednesday, by the way — he said something about that day being the anniversary of their album (I think), but that day was the 10th. So maybe I can’t actually tell you anything about their album either. Who knows? Apparently nobody.
The band actually had a pretty decent fanbase by the time their debut was released because of the Leaflings EP and opening for bands like St. Vincent, but it only got larger and more dedicated after the release of Zaba. Glass Animals fans are Glass Animals fans. You love em or you hate em. And even though I consider myself a fan, it still sort of eludes me why I’m so mesmerized by them.
But seriously, I said I’d talk about the album so let’s talk music.
Zaba is a pretty interesting album, I won’t lie. Interesting is just one of many adjectives that could be used to describe how weird it is. Supposedly — and I’m still not sure if I believe it — the album was inspired by a children’s book called The Zabajaba Jungle, and some songs were inspired by other adventure novels. Honestly, if you watch an interview with these guys it’s a tossup as to whether or not everything they say is bullshit or not, but we’ll roll with this one because after listening, you can buy into it.
There’s something really distinct about Zaba in that it almost sounds like a continuous 40 minutes, but if you pay attention you know exactly what song is playing and when it changed. But here’s the catch: I can never think of which song is which if I’m not listening. The album certainly sounds like it could have been inspired by a jungle book, let’s be honest though. Zaba combines elements of R&B with world music and a very particular kind of weird indie. All in all, it sounds like the Rainforest if the Rainforest had a soundtrack.
If you haven’t picked up on it already, Zaba is a vibing album. Meaning it’s really more about the vibes than making sense. A lot of times Bayley coos nonsense at you and it’s the perfect kind of music for a fuzzy evening. Hell, they even have a track called “Hazy.” Zaba‘s got a heavy, dewey sound that makes you want to sway and takes you to new places. The sounds on the album ebb and flow with several low points and even more extreme high points.
But my biggest problem with the album? Sometimes I don’t think they know when to stop. I find myself skipping on to the next song about two thirds through a track sometimes just because it’s too much. It almost overwhelms your senses. I honestly think it was better live because of the way they translate the crazy electronic almost house-ish sound into a guitar or bass solo. It’s more… manageable? I mean, don’t get me wrong. This album is fun to listen to, but by the time I get to the end of “Hazy” or “Wyrd” I’m ready to reset my brain and move on.
So there you have it. Probably one of the best and weirdest albums I’ve recommended. Zaba will either win you over or turn you off, but you’ll never know until you give it a listen.
Oh, and they put on a great show. Go see em live cause it’s SO worth it. It might even be better. Until next time the urge to write hits, keep listening 😉
Honorable Song Mentions: Black Mambo, Pools, Gooey, Toes, Wyrd