There is a danger you can have too much of a good thing, and ‘Zaba’ may perfectly illustrate this.
With their sparse sonic structures, delicate ushering of synths, breathy vocal hooks and percussion that bursts into florets of Tropicália, Oxford foursome Glass Animals seem lithe and hungry to traverse expansive new territories of style.
When we heard their ‘Leaflings’ EP, we quickly staged a Clash gig to service our flagrant desire to share their plaintive sounds. Gig quietly smashed, we began harbouring our expectations.
Yet ‘Zaba’, the band’s debut long-player, retraces its own footprints too often. Having been addicted to the early successes of ‘Black Mambo’, ‘Gooey’ and ‘Cocoa Hooves’, we weren’t prepared to be ambushed by this collection’s relative shortage of surprises.
‘Walla Walla’ is full of mellifluous lyrical shimmy, but eventually its dense drums get lost in an ever-thickening forest of confusion. ‘Hazey’ chimes and burbles in all the right places but never goes up a level. ‘Toes’ wiggles firmly but without ever transporting us, despite a distinctly oriental sound palette.
They do, however, present two new peaks that extenuate the elements that truly resonate as the Glass Animals sound. ‘Pools’ (video below) is pure honeyed hooks and steamy drums that flourish in dazzling glory. It is magnificent.
Equally, towards the end of ‘Zaba’, ‘Wyrd’ drops with refreshingly heavier beats and glacial, hypnotic melodies that encapsulate exactly what we want from this talented bunch.
Our expectations perhaps are unfair. We dreamed that Glass Animals possessed a cerebral roar of greater range. But they are still one of the most exciting bands in Britain in 2014, and ‘Zaba’ is blessed with musical facets that will blind you with their splendour.
Words: Matthew Bennett
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Listen to ‘Zaba’ in full via Deezer, below…