This Glass Animals record is one of the most interesting things I’ve heard in quite a while, and that is definitely an endorsement. We wrap our ears around stacks of tunes and research a lot more in order to make this site what it is. Some of it is an easy sell; there’s a great hook (like, say Sam Smith singing the hook to a Disclosure song or Schoolboy Q bringing the muscle) or the chord progression is super great, as it is on Drake’s latest. But interesting is different. Interesting means your ears have to work for it, that there’s something a bit whack happening and you’re going to follow it down the rabbit hole. It’s this difference that has largely accounted for most of Beck’s post-Seachange career, as well as everything Radiohead have done after Kid-A. Established acts can get away with it a lot better than new ones, who are trying to approximate themselves in a pre-defined ecosystem. So it’s telling that Glass Animals bound out of the stables with an album still being finalised, promoting a song that’s still got one foot firmly planted in the left-field. If they can carry it off, they’ll be a big deal three years down the line. Or, given the current speed of A&R, tomorrow.
Glass Animals are signed, obviously. And they’re signed to a small imprint owned by a big name in music, who probably has quite a lot to do with how good their debut single sounds. Produce/writer Paul Epworth, responsible for practically every British indie pop song of the last five years worth listening to – like Florence & The Machine, Friendly Fires, Adele and Bloc Party – picked these guys up for himself and his new label, Wolf Tone. You can hear almost from the outset what his golden ears found attractive. There’s excellent use of space, with the vocals pitched far above the sonorous, reverb-heavy floor toms and whispers of jungle sounds like rain sticks and animal samples. They’ve got strangely close harmonies, too, the kind that alt-J used to such aplomb on their breakout record. It’s a bit unnerving and very mysterious, so that you can never fully relax into the slow, loping groove. god knows it’s tempting, though, and as the piece gets more involved and we get lashings of live bass, guitar effects and fully-fanned stacks of vocals, it becomes this amazing, swirling psychedelic oil painting.
There aren’t many lyrics at all in ‘Psylla’, but that’s kind of OK. It means that they’re more of a vehicle for the swelling chant that becomes a mantra by the end of the piece, and gives you more time to focus on all the wonderful things pinging back and forth through your speakers. When your boss is also one of the best in the business, it gives you unprecedented access to the kinds of tools that most artists would only dream of. And so, a band that is probably yet to make a dollar already sounds like a million dollars. I haven’t heard toms and open snares this good since the aforementioned Radiohead’s ‘There There.’ And that little vibraphone caterpillar that sneaks its way in after the first verse is my favourite. Listen out for it. Like everything here, it’s gorgeous.
Glass Animals – ‘Psylla’