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Glass Animals bring psychedelic pop back home

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When last we heard from Oxford (UK)’s psychedelic pop-soul ensemble Glass Animals, in 2016’s How to Be a Human Being, the band was offering detailed vignettes of random humans, real and imagined. As befits a homebound pandemic year, the band is turning its gaze inward in the new Dreamland (Polydor/Republic), offering sober personal tales while preserving a taste of pop sparkle.

Vocalist Dave Bayley’s use of falsetto begs comparison to The 1975, but stark lyrical references to guns in high school classrooms give Glass Animals a greater gravitas. The album’s tales of personal despair work to a great extent, though the band has to tread carefully to avoid the sense of self-importance and profundity often seen in bands like Muse or U2.

Glass Animals has suffered multiple tragedies in the last four years, including the near-death of drummer Joe Seaward in a 2017 accident. The final mixing of Dreamland took place during spring’s lockdown, serving as an exclamation point to the 16 tracks. If a few of those tracks don’t quite hit home, Bayley was more concerned with preserving some rhythms and riffs than with drowning the listener in despair.

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