It's no secret that Glass Animals have become something of an in-house favourite for us here at Stereofox. Between myself, Ivo and Cameron, we've managed to cover pretty much every song the band has released in the last 12 months, so it should come as no surprise to hear that having a copy of their highly anticipated début album ZABA land on my digital doorstep set my heart aflutter.
Now before I get started, I feel compelled to say that ZABA isn't a normal album and in respect of this, I won't be reviewing it as a collection of individual songs. The overarching theme to this concept can be traced back to lead singer and song-writer Dave Baley's favourite childhood book The Zabajaba Jungle, to which it lends it's title. The story follows a young boy as he traverses through a bizarre and dreamlike jungle, encountering fantastical creatures, described and imagined in vivid detail. It's worth mentioning at this point that the books author, William Steig, is the same chap that penned Shrek, yes the Shrek. The more you know!
The video there to track "Pools" is a perfect starting point in trying to describe this album in any kind of coherent way. It's weird. Spacey synths, eerie guitars, tribal drumming and Dave's breathy, mellow vocals combine to conjure up and compliment the images presented in your mind's eye. If you weren't watching the video alongside the track, chances are that's what you were imagining. It's something that traverses through all the songs on the album, a sort of uneasy comfort washes over you as you listen and begin to get lost in the world created.
The best thing about the album is that all the songs (and I do mean all) are completely relevant in their own right, you can pick any track out and listen to it as an individual entity, which is a real credit to Dave and the band. I would however highly recommend listening to the album from start to finish before properly delving into each song to get the full effect of the eccentric and offbeat nuances.
"The lyrics still mean something quite specific to me, but I’ve left them slightly vague. Hopefully other people can identify with them in different ways, finding their own meaning..."
When listened to independently, each song does take on its own persona. Amidst the acid trip instrumentation and head-in-the-clouds lyrics, lie darker undertones representing specific emotions. Loneliness, regret, guilt, uncertainty, grief and frustration all creep in and it's definitely an interesting task to try and figure which song injects which feeling.
It's much less difficult to say that the album really needs to be heard to be understood, and I can guarantee that long time fans of the band will be ecstatic with the final result. If you're new to the band then I absolutely promise it is well worth your time and dare I say, worth taking a risk parting with your hard earned money. There's enough on offer here to keep you hooked well beyond a few play through's.ZABA is released on June 9th and will be supported by a European and American tour. For full details check out the bands website here, and buy the album from iTunes with the link at the top of the page.