Glass Animals - ZABA (2LP)

Glass Animals - ZABA (2LP)

Glass Animals
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2LP, Repress, Gatefold 
Caroline Records (2022) US 
Zaba is the debut album from U.K. quartet Glass Animals, issued on Paul Epworth's new Wolf Tone label. The album was recorded at Wolf Tone Studios in London and was produced by frontman Dave Bayley under the executive production of Epworth. The 11 track record features new single "Gooey" and a reworking of previous limited EP release, "Black Mambo." The title, lifted from Dave's favorite childhood story, comes from William Steig's The Zabajaba Jungle. 

Zaba is one complete beast and a journey you will get most from if you immerse yourself fully and listen from start to finish - a series of situations describing a wealth of strange characters and the weird, subtropical land in which they exist. "The sound of the record," Bayley says, "is like a backdrop of man-made wilderness." What resonates more than ever though are the stories within the songs and the characters used to populate and deliver those stories. Inspired by the exploratory, New World scenarios of Apocalypse Now, The Island of Dr Moreau, Heart of Darkness, The African Queen and Mosquito Coast, Zaba's songs tackle the humanization of nature and human interference with nature.  

The narratives and animals merely mask the real - much darker - subject matter. Each song encapsulates a different emotion, from loneliness and regret to guilt, uncertainty, grief and frustration. Inspired by Kanye West and Charles Darwin, Nina Simone and the Velvet Underground, Zaba is a rich and textured work, a very special record indeed. With Dave producing and Epworth as A&R and mentor, the studio became their home and the band were free to record, improvise and write at their own speed and so their sound has become a bigger, brighter, heavier and more intense experience than ever before. 

The album opens with "Flip" and the sound of entering another of world. "Pools" is a brilliant pop song, repetitive and swaggering, it's bright on the surface with something unutterably dark in the lyrics. "Gooey" is wobbly and child-like, a hymn to naivety. "Walla-Walla" goes back to Dave's love of Timbaland and Dr. Dre, while "Intruxx," initially the introduction to the entire record, summarizes this entire new world you're entering. "Toes" began as a small sketch of a song, a hip-hop groove that grew and grew, while "Wyrd," which the band have been experimenting with live, has become the biggest, loudest heaviest beast on the whole album.