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24th March 2017

Live: Glass Animals

The industry influence casts a dark pineapple-shaped cloud over the Indietronica wunderkinds disappointing set, writes Ben Rout

18th March at Albert Hall


You know when you go to a gig and there’s an audience member that’s indecently and disproportionately into the music? You know the type — someone who insists on extending his arms fully to emphasise the beat, more often out of time than in, with a metre-radius void of empty space surrounding him, no-one willing to risk permeating his sea of obnoxiousness in case they attain a minor injury. Well, what do you do when that person is the frontman of the band performing?

Unlike body-shaking white boys before him — Samuel Herring (magnetic), Thom Yorke (endearing) and David Byrne (transcendent) — Dave Bayley of Glass Animals’ sterile wiggling is difficult to watch. It’s quite honestly impressive how Bayley can reach the dizzying (or should that be bile-inducing) heights of slimeballery matched only by AM-era Alex Turner.

Perhaps it’s difficult to dance with any kind of subtlety when Paul Epworth is pulling the strings attached to his limbs. That’s right: renowned industry hack Paul Epworth — responsible for the larger chunk of landfill indie that has made the last ten years chiefly depressing for fans of guitar music — has ‘executively produced’ (whatever the fuck that means) Glass Animals’ two albums, 2014’s Zaba, and last year’s effort How to Be a Human Being (the title of which is presumably taken from the agenda of a team meeting for the lizards at Epworth’s label). Like Dave Bayley’s unfortunate dance moves (nothing screams authenticity like sheepishly swaying on top of the kick-drum — Death Grips they are not), it’s difficult to tell what aspects of Glass Animals’ act are genuine and what was thought of in the boardroom.

Epworth’s industry cynicism is a spectre that looms over the entire set — quite literally in the form of their giant, and frankly offensive, pineapple-shaped disco ball. Either Glass Animals are crazy bastards and purchased this grotesque tumour of crude oil in a KLF-esque move of decadence, or Clive from marketing has a new bullet point for the ‘Passion for Excellence’ section of his quarterly performance appraisal. This hanging sequined scrotum actually reminded me of the episode of the Simpsons where Cypress Hill mistakenly take the London Symphony Orchestra intended for Peter Frampton’s performance. Accidental appropriation is the only conceivable explanation for its presence, because the implication that the music of Glass Animals is at all danceable-to is as laughable as Dave Bayley’s dancing.

The rest of the band are sort of just there, though occasionally prance up to enact the homoerotic Guns N’ Roses-style rock ‘n’ roll cliché of playing their guitars into each other like a bunch of sixth formers. Nice work lads!

I know thus far I’ve made it through this review without even discussing their music, but Glass Animals make it easy by having mixing so atrocious that it’s virtually impossible to ascertain a single ounce of melody. When the mixing isn’t so horrendous to convince you that Glass Animals aren’t playing in another building entirely, the songs are just average. That or they’re blatantly plagiarised from house music, and Timbaland and John Frusciante’s work from the early to mid-2000s — not coincidentally the era that most of tonight’s audience grew up in.

God damn Lindsey Buckingham and Rostam Batmanglij for their pioneering drum production in letting hacks like Glass Animals get away with writing completely vacuous songs by burying them entirely beneath the drum kit. And the alt-J-inspired nonsense lyrics are so obnoxious and empty, the only worthy comparison Dave Bayley’s dancing.

The audience, by the way, are so invested in Glass Animals that they maintain a constant volume of chatter throughout the whole set, which Glass Animals need to subtract from any vindication they get from their admittedly huge applauses (which exponentially decrease over the course of the evening — go figure).

File Glass Animals with the mounting portfolio of acts like CHVRCHES, Moderat and Slaves inexplicably able to sell out Manchester venues thanks to stellar marketing and having one good song (respectively: The Mother We Share, Bad Kingdom and… um…). File Glass Animals with acts like Imagine Dragons, Twenty One Pilots and Jungle who hid their unoriginality and dullness behind glossy production and marketing nonsense. Glass Animals are a GCSE music project gone too far. Glass Animals make me want to throw away all my patterned short-sleeved shirts. Glass Animals’ last album probably got four stars in the NME. Glass Animals are the Hoosiers for 2017. And the singer is crap at dancing.

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