When Glass Animals released its ingenious concept album, How To Be A Human Being, in 2016, little did frontman Dave Bayley know the group’s next album would refract the spotlight onto his own life experiences.
The sophomore album featured 11 tracks, all loosely based off people the four-piece British band met while touring. Bayley, however, later admitted the emotionally charged final song, “Agnes,” was based on himself.
Dreamland marks the group’s first album since 2016. Its long-awaited release is proof Bayley’s continued autobiographical approach to songwriting has the potential to create countless masterpieces.
Dreamland features what Glass Animals has always done best with a new layer of emotional intimacy. The combination of Bayley’s thought-provoking lyricism with equally enticing elements of psychedelic pop leave listeners needing to press repeat to fully appreciate all of what each track has to offer.
From the album’s very beginning, Bayley makes it clear to listeners that Dreamland is something completely different from the group’s past projects. The album opens with the title track, where heavy synths paired with Bayley’s dreamy vocals emulate the album’s namesake.
Bayley also foretells what the rest of the album’s 15 tracks will explore in the opener. He sings about both looking back on past friendships and loves and about looking toward the future and what societal pressures are weighing him down.
Bayley brings raw emotions and memories to the forefront of Dreamland not only through original lyrics, but through the album’s interludes. The album features four “home movies,” where Bayley samples from childhood videos. Whereas some albums include interludes that seem unnecessary, bringing relics of his childhood to life makes Dreamland even more of the poignant experience that Bayley and the rest of Glass Animals were aiming for.
Dreamland contains some songs that will surely be summer staples while others merely demonstrate the sort of experimentation the group has never shied away from. Tracks such as “Heat Waves” and “Hot Sugar” feature some of Glass Animals’ most addictive beats to date and will surely be stuck in listeners’ heads for days to come. Lyrically, the tracks also feature some of Bayley’s best work to date. Other tracks, like “Domestic Bliss,” feature even darker memories from Bayley’s past. As Bayley sings of the highs and lows of life and love throughout the album, it’s impossible to not feel his dynamic lyricism hit close to home, even if, at times, some tracks venture a little too much into the bizarre.
By far, the best aspect of Dreamland is the near perfect production. Bayley artfully layers vocals and builds entrancing synths, making the album’s 45 minute run-time feel like a stimulating out-of-body experience. With Bayley’s accolade of producing for other artists such as Khalid and Flume, it’s no surprise that Dreamland is the sonic masterpiece of the summer.