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4.6 out of 5 stars
32
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 13 February 2015
Wow - this is fresh and takes me back to the early to mid 90's discovering groups like Massive Attack. In fact there is such a Massive Attack feel to many of the tracks it's uncanny. Glass Animals develop their tracks more into full blown instrumental quirkiness that then likens itself more to Flying Lotus.

Take the opener for example - "Flip" - this has a shy, abstract opening with a deep, relaxed beat swiftly following. The vocals then enter and again there is melody and flow and swiftly the track picks up pace, with more instruments (or sounds) entering the fray to create an atmosphere of a track with the vocals almost taking second fiddle. Great start to the album.

"Black Mambo" is up next and straight away we have a completely new style of beat, suddenly more uplifting but still relaxed. The same slow melodic vocal style and suddenly "Black Mambo" has developed a funk quite unlike the first track but extremely pleasing to the ears.

Most of Glass Animals' tracks commence in similar fashion developing rapidly with many becoming a melange of musical textures, vocals and sounds that probably shouldn't work but absolutely do. Each track brings a smile and realisation that you're coming to the end of another quality track.

Track 3 "Pools", is ever so slightly different. It commences on a slightly more upbeat note, and throughout most of the track slows down for the vocal sections followed by a return to the chorus and funky beat. Again fantastic.

Special mention to "Gooey", "Toes", "Hazey" and the closer "Jdnt". All prime examples of pleasing cacophonies!

I only have one, slightly critical comment, quite a few of the tracks have extended closing sequences which I find unnecessary. These appear after the track has apparently finished and then suddenly a new lazy beat fades out slowly. I guess this is the artists way of expressing full circle. It doesn't really detract from the tracks or the album, I certainly wouldn't knock a star off for that but I did find it odd the first few times I listened to the album.

Anyway, should you be looking at this trying to decide if you should try something new, then jump in. Do it! Glass Animals are excellent and definitely an ensemble I will look for again.
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on 4 December 2014
What a beautiful album! Definitely one of the best of 2014, my personal favorite. Can't choose a song that is better than others, they are all sooo good. Thankfully, I bought it on vinyl which makes for an otherworldly experience. Strongly recommended album, and if you have a turntable I'd advice you to buy it on vinyl.
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VINE VOICEon 14 June 2014
If Glass Animals don't have bedrooms stuffed with late-period Rebirth of Cool compilations from the 90s, I'll eat my hat. Because that's where their collective head appears to be at on Zaba.

Once upon a time, a scene that (to the disdain of all those involved) became known as trip-hop, splintered into two. One strain grew so creamy (unchallenging and dull) it begat chillout, and faded into irrelevance. While other, more challenging acts (as chronicled on the Rebirth of Cool series from, and after, edition Phive) got all serious (and, likewise, eventually very dull) playing cerebral games with jungle angularity and time-signature-bucking jazz vocal flows.

In the latter's case, the woozy, narco beats and clever, underpinning turntablist samples were all very interesting; as were the meandering, almost stream of consciousness vocals. But by trading heart for smarts, the music also dumped its ability to move or emote, and disappeared up its own bong. And that, sadly, is where Glass Animals have slaved the formula too closely; because, while previous single Gooey is all sweet charm and engagement (as the hit that will bring people here), the rest of GA's debut album is challenging - but not in a great way.

Okay, GA's building and matching of ethno-jazz percussion loops to smart cut-up samples is admirable. But over an album's length, a formula emerges - and repeats (and repeats) to fade; a revolving exercise in style over sincerity not helped by vocalist David Bayley's tendency to kick off on a sinewy vocal and not let up. As Talking Heads once said (on the Stop Making Sense inner sleeve), singing is just a way to hold the listener's attention; but in Bayley's case, the overall feel is that he's frightened to stop singing lest he expose his music's ultimate lack of heart. Moreover, what he's going on about is rarely clear - and while a lack of sense has never stopped pop or rock music from hitting the sweet spot, whereas Bjork might be singing the telephone book for all the enraptured world knows, Bayley's seeming dadaist lyrics could actually do with some narrative hooks to justify the attention.

Compilations like Rebirth Of Cool worked because they curated acts who didn't do albums - and in Glass Animals' case, less is most definitely more.
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on 26 September 2014
“These creatures are alive.”

The rise of Glass Animals has been a freight train of momentum, steadily building into an unstoppable and totally undeniable force. Although it feels like the band’s success in popular music circles can be attributed to the past few months, fame hasn’t been quite so instant for the London-based, ambient electronica band. The project started when lead singer Dave Bayley began to suffer from insomnia while studying Medicine at University. Rather than concede to his sleep deprivation, he decided to embrace the state of slight delirium, and use his newly-found hours to craft something special. After sharing his virginal sounds with a select few friends, now bandmates; Glass Animals were tightened, refined, and born.

Sounding like a molten-pot of James Blake, jungle grooves, and sleepy, liquid electronica; ZABA is a fitting beginning to this band’s journey. Inspired by New World scenarios like Apocalypse Now, The Island of Dr Moreau and Heart of Darkness, the album tackles man’s interference with nature, something which Dave feels so protective of.

There’s a lot that’s special about this record. Firstly, the infusion of what feels like a fictional, tropical jungle soundscape into the atmospheric electronica is masterfully done. It’s definitely a unique selling point of this band. This forms a gorgeously creative sound, and an intensively immersive one - even down to the detail of littering breakdowns, and outros that use bird song and dripping water. Everything gives the release a satisfying continuity.

What’s even better is that although the band are undeniably skilled at writing smooth, silky songs - listen to “Gooey” and “Black Mambo” for the best example here - ZABA is dotted with darker and more powerful songs. These illustrate a whole new dimension of the band. Songs like “Walla Walla” and “Wyrd” are bass heavy, dark songs, fuelled by a deceptive amount of frustration and anger. This provides a stark contrast to the uncontrollably upbeat grooves of “Pools”. This band is anything but a one trick pony.

One of the most beautiful things about this album is the craft and thought that’s gone into the vocals. It’s more than just sung lyrics; the pronunciation of words are twisted and moulded into sounds that create feeling and emotion. They’re such a focal point that you are left waiting for them during breakdowns. The sound of the “ee’s” and “ooh’s”, in particular, never sound the same, and it’s the interplay between bright, and sultry sounds that gives the air of a band that really know what they’re doing.

Overall, this is a band that has truly lived up to their hype. ZABA demonstrates musicianship, personality, and uniqueness, and it is truly one of the releases of the year.

Read more reviews like this one: http://www.drunkenwerewolf.com
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on 19 July 2014
One of my favourite albums of 2014 so far, very cool, soulful, tropical, electronic pop music, similar kind of sound to Alt-J.
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on 6 July 2014
love this album, great sound a real grower , i saw them live they do not dissapoint ! awesome !
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on 4 October 2015
The digital download code is only valid in the US, but that's not why you're buying the vinyl; the music is even more fabulous than the art work.
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on 16 June 2016
Such an awesome CD. I have recently fell in love with Glass Animals and would recommend this to everyone!
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on 19 February 2015
Incredible band, of the most interesting and exciting albums i have listened to in a long time.
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on 22 June 2015
Great debut album, remindes me a bit of Alt J.
would defenetly recomend
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