Glass Animals’ ‘Dreamland’: Track-By-Track Album Review.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Cover Photo:
Glass Animals’ ‘Dreamland’ MV

01. Dreamland

Typically, the opening track is one of the two: either an extremely catchy and attention-grabbing song to get the listener hooked right away or something that feels like an intro, meant to set the tone of the project.

It is no secret that Glass Animals love to create elaborate stories with their music, so, naturally, they’ve used their intro to present the audience with the background of the album. It’s a beautiful song. It’s reflective, both lyrically and musically, incorporating the classic GA synth sound.

‘Dreamland’ is nostalgic and maybe a little bit painful. However, the song never really feels like it culminates. It lacks the moment that it needs to feel complete. The song could be appreciated for what it is doing, but it really is not a song that could stand on its own, outside of the context of the album.

02. Tangerine

Upon the first listening, ‘Tangerine’ shows a lot of promise. It’s catchy and repetitive — two of the key components of any good pop song. It definitely comes as a nice surprise after the intro track.

‘Tangerine’ leans into Glass Animals’ pop and hip hop influences. The song is quite sad lyrically, but, when paired with the energy of the instrumental, it creates sort of an unsettling listening experience, in a good way. This is certainly not my favorite song on the album but it is a decent, crowd-pleasing track to put on at a party or while hanging out with friends. 

04. Hot Sugar

Lyrically, ‘Hot Sugar’ is extremely reminiscent of the content from Glass Animals’ debut album, Zaba. Sonically, the song is something in between R&B and pop. It has got a vibe and energy that is outside of the band’s typical repertoire — which is refreshing — but without a more captivating melody; it becomes a forgettable filler track.

I can hear the potential, but when someone listens to an album for the first time, they’re looking for something memorable to latch onto and this song simply doesn’t have that. This is not to say that it isn’t a nice song, but nice isn’t really what you want to hear on someone’s new album. You can play this song while you clean your house, but you just won’t sing along to it in the car. 

06. Space Ghost Coast to Coast

This song caught my attention after the otherwise disappointing opening tracks. Until the beat comes in and completely changes the energy of the song, the intro of ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast’ tricks you and makes you think you’re about to listen to ‘Sail’ by Awolnation.

The instrumental of the track fits into the category of dark hip hop with heavy bass and a creepy vibe. The more I listened to this track, the more it grew on me. This song does a really good job of blending their older, trippy kind of sound with hip hop sensibilities.

The frontman of Glass Animals, Dave Bayley, is an incredible producer and this song shows that off. It is a sleeper on the album, but the more you listen, the more you hear. The sly production bells and whistles are what Glass Animals have come to be known for. Hearing something new every time you listen to a song is a gratifying experience and that’s what makes people love this band. This song isn’t the most incredible they have ever released but it is cool and worth spending your time with.

07. Tokyo Drifting

This song was released as a single this past winter. I had no idea this would even be on the new album because the visuals were so different from the content they had released to promote the new record. That said, as much as this song feels sort of separate from the rest of the album, it is amazing.

‘Tokyo Drifting’ is Glass Animals at their best. The production of this song is out of this world and Denzel Curry absolutely shreds his verse. Again, the bells and whistles on this track are what make it stand out from the rest. Tokyo Drifting is a great representation of Glass Animals’ ability to hide interesting moments within the makeup of a song. Every time you listen, you hear something new, not to mention it has the catchy, memorable quality that I was hoping for but didn’t get on some of the earlier tracks.

08. Melon And The Coconut

This song was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the album, it’s a struggle to not call it boring. Though I can hear the ’60s influences that Bayley loves loud and clear, it is also a part of the problem with this song. You can hear what Dave Bayley was trying to do, but it never quite comes together. It is not necessarily disjointed, but it feels as though something is missing; something to make the song pop and really impact you.

The band’s writing process is very much based on experimentation with instruments, sound, and production. One can hear this attempt to blend that ’60s influence (ex. The Beatles and The Beach Boys) with early 2000s hip hop stylings but it just doesn’t match up. The two are never able to fully bond in a way that makes sense and the track feels incomplete and forgettable.

There is nothing to impress you with in ‘Melon And The Coconut’. While the talent and experimentation required to make a song like this are admirable, to the average listener this song will sound mundane and confusing as it lacks the energy we all need to appreciate the sentiment. I imagine that most people, aside from the die-hard fans, will be skipping this track over.

09. Your Love (Déjà Vu)

‘Your Love’ was released as a precursor to Glass Animals’ album announcement this spring and it certainly got my hopes up. It took me a few listens to fall in love with it but, eventually, I did. There is so much to hear in this song. The flutes are brilliantly incorporated and give it its own unique sound and high energy experience.

The only disappointing thing about this track is that it feels like there isn’t quite enough bass. I was waiting for the signature Glass Animals style drop and I never got one. The melody on this song is pretty repetitive, but it’s fun either way. ‘Your Love’ is one of those songs that just feels good and the variety of effects is the reason why. This song really shows off Bayley’s production skills.

10. Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth

Upon my first listen, this was my favorite new track from the album. It is not the catchiest song, but the rap-like moments in the song, accompanied by Bayley’s signature vocal style, are truly appealing. The structure of ‘Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth’ isn’t the standard one of verse-chorus-verse-chorus; it’s more linear and less repetitive, harkening back to the style of their first record.

A lot of the sounds and vocal stylings are reminiscent of How to Be a Human Being, all layered over the hip hop beats in their more recent singles. This song is complex and a beautiful representation of the evolution of the band — with every listen, there’s always a new moment in the song that excites me. That’s the exact feeling you want when you’re listening to an album you’ve been highly anticipating. This song really satisfies that desire. As a big Glass Animals fan, ‘Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth’ feels extremely gratifying. It’s the song long-time fans wanted from this album. It is neither the catchiest nor the most straightforward, but there is so much to hear and appreciate. 

11. It’s All So Incredibly Loud

This song is heart-wrenching. It feels like a long build-up to a heartbreak. ‘It’s All So Incredibly Loud’ is another song that is not the most straightforward structurally, but it begs you to pay attention. Any song with the first line being “I’m breaking / . . .” feels important.

There is so much pain in this track: from the lyrics to the instrumental to the actual vocal performance. The build-up feels like it is leading to a car crash and, in a sense, it does. This song features Dave Bayley’s voice at its finest. It is a haunting performance and absolutely one of the best songs on the record despite lacking a hook that most listeners want. In order to pull off a song without a real chorus or catchy melody, it has to be done extremely well and, unlike a lot of the other songs on this record, ‘It’s All So Incredibly Loud’ absolutely does that. 

13. Domestic Bliss

I really like what they were trying to do with this song but I’m not sure that it was entirely successful. Instrumentally, I can hear that there was an effort made to create a warm and triumphant ambiance to harshly juxtapose the lyrical content. This is a song about domestic violence — it’s important to shed light on issues like this and not hide from them, especially from a creative point of view.

‘Domestic Bliss’ features the vocalist essentially speaking to a friend, who is stuck in the cycle of abuse. There is pain, there are questions and it’s well done; yet there is a slippery slope to insensitivity. I think this song teeters that line and had it not been told like a story from the first-person perspective, it could have been problematic, so props to the band for making it work. That said, it’s a good song, but, aside from the lyrical content, it leaves a lot to be desired. 

14. Heat Waves

This is absolutely one of the best songs Glass Animals have ever released, alongside tracks like ‘Life Itself’ and ‘Gooey’. Every person that listens to ‘Heat Waves’, loves it. The songwriting is top-notch: from a melody that gets stuck in your head to modern pop and hip hop sensibilities, production gems, and killer lyrics.

The track is undeniable. It’s appealing across a multitude of genres because it is just that well written. Even all of the pretentious indie people will — most likely — like this song because there truly is nothing wrong with it. It’s a banger.

16. Helium

The last track of the record, ‘Helium’, sounds like an outro, so it’s successful in that sense. There is nothing particularly memorable about this track. However, it feels finite like the end of a chapter, and it circles back around to the intro track, repeating the same exact music that the album opened with.

I think this track is smart. It fits in and supports the overall concept of the album in a very clean and packaged way. It feels more useful than it does feel important. This, again, is not a song I would expect anyone to listen to outside of the context of the album, but it is perfect for where it sits. 

▌((home movie: …)) clips

I didn’t want to review these clips in the same way that I reviewed the songs because it would be unfair and quite honestly pointless. However, I felt that it was important to acknowledge their presence and contribution to the album as a whole.

Between several of the tracks, Glass Animals have included clips from home movies made by Bayley’s mother in the ’90s. It was a sweet choice and I appreciated the way that they contributed to the nostalgic aspect of the album. Yet some of these clips were so short that you wouldn’t even realize they were playing until they were over, specifically the first two. Like the intro and outro tracks on the album, these are recordings that would be skipped unless you are intentionally listening through the entire album.

I understand their purpose and I think they are beautiful and kind of heartwarming, but it feels heavy-handed. I would have preferred for some of the clips to be integrated into the songs somehow rather than having them exist as separate tracks. These recordings are specific to Dave Bayley alone and it seems self-indulgent to have them incorporated so heavily and so separately. It made the album feel very Bayley-centric when its original purpose was to be about bringing people together. I think it’s worth noting that, while Bayley does do the majority of the songwriting, Glass Animals are a whole band and this just seems to feed into classic rockstar frontman energy and it almost seems a bit tone-deaf. 

Overall, Dreamland is a nice album, but I was highly disappointed. All of the best songs were already released as singles prior to the drop of the record. Most of the new tracks are forgettable but none of them are necessarily bad either. It was a very “okay” album. 

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