Glass Animals – Zaba

The highly anticipated debut album from Oxford’s Glass Animals is finally here and it’s a truly special release. Having been hand-picked by super-producer Paul Epworth (the Grammy winning mind behind Adele’s ’21’ and numerous other modern classics) and signed to his Wolf Tone label the quartet have been given a rare opportunity to fully realise their vision with their first release and have embraced it fully. Given time to fully explore their sound in a state-of-the-art studio they have put together an instant classic of an album which takes inspiration from numerous strands of electronic music and weaves them together into a rich, sinuous, slinky sound all their own.

There is so much going on here that the numerous snakey twists and turns reveal more on each listen; built upon a serpentine groove, inspired by front-man Dave Bayley’s love for Timbaland, these songs transform over time from minimal, vocal & beat beginnings to incredibly complex crescendo’s incorporating all manner of glitches, gurgles and most importantly killer hooks. Striking a perfect balance between the organic and the synthetic, these songs tackle the humanization of nature through a sound-world evoking a kind of man-made wilderness, a claustrophobic and almost menacingly close feel pervades much of this album. Most striking of course is the vocals, Bayley has a stunning, quivering voice, pitched somewhere between twin Wild Beasts front-men Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming while also frequently recalling Horace Andy’s vocal turn on Massive Attack’s classic ‘Angel’. As the tracks progress Bayley’s voice is joined by a chorus of backing vocals creating a sound possibly best described as a wall-of-whispers, a rippling, pleading sound that has nods towards alt-J’s densely constructed woozy-pop.

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