I’ve been investing great swathes of time listening to the Beastie Boys‘ audio commentaries of the their best albums. They’re a blast, with the three now-veteran (OK, ‘old’) japesters collectively pressing tongues firmly into their cheeks.
Still, these insights are hugely revealing, particularly when it comes to the thorny issue of defining creativity itself. Much time is dedicated to bickering good-naturedly over whether an SP-1200 or Akai MPC-60 was used to sample a novelty cod-funk record, and by their own admission the hectic and brilliant Check Your Head took three years to make: of which two and a half was spent playing basketball.
Their self-effacing attitude isn’t simply a front – they seem wholly bemused by their ability to cobble together songs that end up being loved by so many, especially as their attitude towards their craft sounds relaxed to say the least.
So if the Beastie Boys don’t know how they do it, what hope do any new bands have? How do they learn? The same way as Ad-Rock and co. did, I imagine: by staggering along and hoping for the best.
Is this how Glass Animals went about putting their songs together too? Probably – but by the sounds of it, they replaced the sweaty two-on-one basketball sessions with spiffing high teas.
Their songs linger and creep, and this quality is none more apparent than in Dust In Your Pocket, an exercise in spooked-out pop that has all the hallmarks of a band that are so overflowing with ideas that they were forced to fade down half of the tracks they recorded simply for reasons of clarity.
Dust is minimal to the point that the listener is dragged along waiting for the moment the song collapses – although it never does – and the song turns out to be its own devious alter-ego, keeping excess in check and thriving on its own dizzy and multi-faceted construction. Glass Animals: strange, sharp and direct.