Zaba (album)

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Zaba
Glass animals zaba.jpg
Studio album by
Released9 June 2014
StudioWolf Tone Studios (London, United Kingdom)
Genre
Length45:31
LabelWolf Tone, Caroline International, Harvest
ProducerDave Bayley, Paul Epworth (exec.)
Glass Animals chronology
Glass Animals
(2013)
Zaba
(2014)
How to Be a Human Being
(2016)
Singles from Zaba
  1. "Black Mambo"
    Released: 16 June 2013[1]
  2. "Gooey"
    Released: 14 February 2014[2]
  3. "Pools"
    Released: 17 April 2014[3]
  4. "Hazey"
    Released: 13 October 2014[4]

Zaba (stylised as ZABA) is the debut studio album by English alternative group Glass Animals, released on 9 June 2014 by Wolf Tone/Caroline International and on 17 June 2014 by Harvest Records in the US.

Background[edit]

Interest first arose in Glass Animals after the release of their debut extended play Leaflings on independent label Kaya Kaya Records, a subsidiary and imprint of XL Recordings,[5] part of the Beggars Group of labels. After they became the first act to be signed to Wolf Tone, the record label of British producer Paul Epworth, they released their second, self-titled EP.[6] A song from the EP, "Black Mambo", in addition to a re-recorded version of "Cocoa Hooves" from Leaflings, appears on Zaba, expanding the promotion of the album. Glass Animals also gained exposure in Europe by playing opening act on European shows of St. Vincent, Metronomy, Yeasayer and others.[7] Zaba performed particularly well on the Australian charts, following three headline shows in the country and an appearance and regular airplay on Australian radio station Triple J.[8] The album reached number 12 on the ARIA Charts.

Composition[edit]

Zaba is primarily a psychedelic indie pop record.[9] The album's sound is characterized by obscure tropical percussion and jungle timbres. This musical motif reflects lead singer David Bayley's exotic subject matter, which was inspired by the William Steig children's book The Zabajaba Jungle.[10] To achieve this sound, Bayley would record ambient sounds of a field near his house or the chewing of rabbits and other animals, and percussive sounds of cooking utensils and children's toys. Some of the songs were based specifically on certain adventure novels: "Toes", for example, intends to recreate the atmosphere of The Island of Doctor Moreau and Heart of Darkness.[8][11]

Various music critics have indicated that Zaba holds strong R&B influences, particularly in its use of "hard-hitting" hip hop basslines, pop-influenced melodies, and husky vocals with a lyrical focus on sensuality.[12][13] Additionally, Zaba is regularly noted for its subtle electronica influences and use of synthesizers. This is evident on the first track of the album, "Flip", which begins as a slow, seductive build of understated electronica and dream pop evocative of Jamie xx and Flying Lotus.[9] The song then "erupting" into a "warm" wash of electronics and bass sounds; its deep, "sticky" beat is paired with percussion to form a "sonic honeycomb". "Black Mambo" opens with a similar steady build, and leads with pizzicato strings which "cascade" over xylophones into rich, soulful vocal harmonies.[14]

Throughout its composition, Zaba explores the concept of minimalism, allowing the beats, melodies, and lyrics to "speak for themselves". The songs feature sparse, uncluttered, groove-driven electronic structures and mix soulful vocals, R&B beats, and gentle percussion with unobtrusive synths and light, glitchy electronica.[13][15] Zaba's songs are connected by self-described "interludes" of echoed electronics, varied percussion, and smooth jazz, weaving them together so that while each individual track is distinctive, the album "melts" into a single, mellow groove. Carey Hodges of Paste noted that the "danceable" music on Zaba contains "bizarre, gorgeous, playful" dark atmospheres, saying it's "ideal for lazy Sunday mornings and hazy Friday nights".[14]

The band were regularly placed out of their comfort zone while recording Zaba. Speaking on the recording of the album, Bayley said: "We were really worried about what our friends and family would think, basically. We kept everything quite toned down, and then we spent six or seven months experimenting, trying to find out what to do on the record, and after we finished those tracks, we had a much better idea of what we needed to do and how we wanted to sound."[16] Executive producer Paul Epworth was the source of more unorthodox recording methods in the studio, particularly in the vocal take of "Gooey", during which Bayley laid down his vocals holding a pineapple named "Sasha Fierce", and recorded the final chorus in eight different impressions, including "an old woman, a drunk crack addict, [and] a terrible impression of James Brown" to replicate the sound of a choir.[11] Nevertheless, Bayley assured that Epworth was a positive influence on the band: "He's a really great producer, he knows how to make everyone feel really relaxed and push you out of your comfort zone so you're not just regurgitating ideas but coming up with new ones and trying things out – even if they don't work."[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.3/10[17]
Metacritic77/100[18]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[19]
Clash8/10[20]
DIY4/5 stars[21]
Drowned in Sound5/10[22]
NME8/10[23]
The Observer3/5 stars[24]
Paste9.0/10[25]
Q4/5 stars[26]
The Skinny4/5 stars[27]
Uncut7/10[28]

Zaba received generally favourable reviews, with an aggregated score of 77 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 12 reviews.[18]

Commercial performance[edit]

As of October 2016 Zaba has sold 600,000 equivalent copies worldwide. It charted at No.12 in Australia and No.92 in the UK, where it has sold 18,824 copies, 6,515 of them as streams, according to the Official Charts Company.[29]

As of October 2015 the LP has sold over 190,000 units in the US, and peaked at No.1 on the Alternative New Artist Chart last week after 64 weeks.[30]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written, composed, and produced by Dave Bayley.

Zaba – Standard edition
No.TitleLength
1."Flip"3:42
2."Black Mambo"4:08
3."Pools"4:48
4."Gooey"4:49
5."Walla Walla"3:37
6."Intruxx"2:49
7."Hazey"4:25
8."Toes"4:14
9."Wyrd"4:05
10."Cocoa Hooves"4:31
11."JDNT"4:24
Total length:45:31
Zaba – iTunes deluxe edition[31]
No.TitleLength
12."Psylla"3:31
13."Exxus"4:19
14."Black Mambo" (Zodiac Remix)3:40
15."Gooey" (Gilligan Moss Remix)5:39
Total length:62:40
Zaba – Amazon deluxe edition[32]
No.TitleLength
12."Black Mambo" (Stripped)3:51
13."Gooey" (Stripped)4:08
14."Hazey" (Stripped)3:49
15."Cocoa Hooves" (Stripped)3:36
Total length:60:55

Personnel[edit]

  • David Bayley – producer
  • David Wrench – mixing
  • Glass Animals – primary artist, engineer
  • Joseph Hartwell Jones – engineer
  • Mandy Parnell – mastering
  • Matt Wiggins – engineer
  • Micah Lidberg – artwork, illustrations
  • Paul Epworth – executive producer

Charts[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[33] 12
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[34] 162
US Billboard 200[35] 177
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[36] 27

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Black Mambo / Exxus by Glass Animals on Amazon Music - Amazon.com". 16 June 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  2. ^ "iTunes - Music - Gooey - Single". 14 February 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Glass Animals". 17 April 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  4. ^ Chang, Mary (3 September 2014). "Video of the Moment #1618: Glass Animals". There Goes the Fear. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Bench Self Made - Cherish Kaya". Retrieved 7 September 2014 – via Vimeo.
  6. ^ Lester, Paul (7 November 2013). "Glass Animals (New band of the day No 1,635)". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  7. ^ "Glass Animals Gigography". Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Glass Animals talk new album, Australian tour plans". Triple J. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  9. ^ a b Kingsmill, Kate (3 June 2014). "Glass Animals - Zaba". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  10. ^ Geslani, Michelle (18 April 2014). "Listen: Glass Animals' hypnotizing new song "Pools"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  11. ^ a b "TRACK-BY-TRACK: Glass Animals". The Quietus. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  12. ^ Ryan, Cole. "Glass Animals – ZABA". HillyDilly. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  13. ^ a b Cole, Ally. "Album Review: Glass Animals, 'Zaba'". AAA Backstage. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  14. ^ a b Hodges, Carey (11 June 2014). "Glass Animals: ZABA Review". Paste. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  15. ^ a b Suprowicz, Ange (14 May 2014). "Interview: Glass Animals – 'It keeps you in outer space'". Nothing But Hope and Passion. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Glass Animals star sang under duvet". Belfast Telegraph. 15 June 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Zaba by Glass Animals reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Zaba by Glass Animals Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  19. ^ Phares, Heather. "ZABA – Glass Animals". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  20. ^ Bennett, Matthew (16 July 2014). "Glass Animals – Zaba". Clash. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  21. ^ West, James (5 June 2014). "Glass Animals – ZABA". DIY. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  22. ^ Cottingham, Christian (10 June 2014). "Album Review: Glass Animals – Zaba". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  23. ^ Welch, Andy (9 June 2014). "Glass Animals – 'Zaba'". NME. Archived from the original on 13 June 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  24. ^ Mardles, Paul (8 June 2014). "Zaba review – Glass Animals' cool but clinical debut". The Observer. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  25. ^ Hodges, Carey (11 June 2014). "Glass Animals: ZABA Review". Paste. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  26. ^ "Glass Animals: Zaba". Q. No. 336. July 2014. p. 107.
  27. ^ Sully, George (16 June 2014). "Glass Animals – ZABA". The Skinny. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  28. ^ "Glass Animals: Zaba". Uncut. No. 206. July 2014. p. 73.
  29. ^ Walker, Jennifer (12 October 2016). "Breaking Glass: How Glass Animals became international streaming sensations". Music Week. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  30. ^ Ingham, Tim (5 October 2015). "'The Power of Streaming': Glass Animals Hit 100M Plays On Spotify". Music Business Worldwide. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  31. ^ "iTunes - Music - ZABA (Deluxe) by Glass Animals". iTunes Store. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  32. ^ "Amazon - Music - ZABA (Deluxe) by Glass Animals". Amazon. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  33. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Glass Animals – Zaba". Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  34. ^ "Ultratop.be – Glass Animals – Zaba" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  35. ^ "Glass Animals Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  36. ^ "Glass Animals Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 18 October 2020.