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How to Be a Human Being Image
Metascore
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Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critic Reviews What's this?

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8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 124 Ratings

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  • Summary: The second full-length release for the British band was inspired people telling stories.
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Top Track

Life Itself
Daddy was dumb Said that I'd be something special Brought me up tough But I was a gentle human Said that he loved Each of my two million... See the rest of the song lyrics
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. 95
    The last memory of How To Be A Human Being is pure brilliance, and you're forced to revisit the record every chance you get. Each listen reveals more, scrapes back another layer. You'll get more and feel more each time you hit play.
  2. Sep 9, 2016
    90
    Nobody else sounds like them right now.
  3. Aug 24, 2016
    80
    How to Be a Human Being is arguably yet more effervescent than its predecessor.
  4. Sep 2, 2016
    80
    It sufficiently moves their sound on from Zaba, while also successfully capturing the multifaceted nature of man.
  5. Sep 1, 2016
    75
    The tracks flit between genres with little regard for thematic continuity. Still, the album makes up for that absence with a barrage of raw humanity.
  6. Mojo
    Sep 6, 2016
    60
    Bayley's lyrics--inspired by fly-on-the-wall over-hearings--add depth. [Oct 2016, p.109]
  7. Q Magazine
    Sep 23, 2016
    40
    How To Be A Human Being shows a band who know how to Frankenstein a song together, but can't bring it to life. [Nov 2016, p.107]

See all 16 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Aug 26, 2016
    10
    Despite the fact that it only came out yesterday, How To Be A Human Being is practically my favorite album this year. And that really meansDespite the fact that it only came out yesterday, How To Be A Human Being is practically my favorite album this year. And that really means something, considering the fact that this year we've had new records from artists like Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean and even the late David Bowie.

    How To Be A Human Being really is something special. Glass Animals debut album, ZABA, was an album where you felt immersed in nature. This sophomore album is an album where you feel immersed in...well people. It tells the stories of fictional characters created by the frontman, inspired by stories the band has heard from everyday people.

    It feels so different from ZABA yet it still has their recognizable style/sound, something that I'm glad they've managed to find during their short and promising career. A wonderful album, and definitely something you should check out, regardless of if you were a fan of ZABA or not.

    Personal Highlight Tracks: Youth, Pork Soda, Mama's Gun, The Other Side of Paradise.
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  2. Feb 9, 2022
    10
    Amazing. All songs except 3 or 4 are amazing. This is a must listen album for anyone.
  3. Sep 10, 2016
    10
    I'm gonna be honest, this is a huge surprise for me. They were capable of reinventing themselves into a different band but without losingI'm gonna be honest, this is a huge surprise for me. They were capable of reinventing themselves into a different band but without losing their essence. Glass Animals is definitely something to keep an eye on and this album is a prove of that. Expand
  4. Aug 30, 2016
    10
    This is a fantastic evolution for Glass Animals, and is something I'll be spinning on repeat for many weeks to come. This album takes some ofThis is a fantastic evolution for Glass Animals, and is something I'll be spinning on repeat for many weeks to come. This album takes some of the dark, spooky vibes from Zaba and thrusts them into the sunlight, and it results in some incredibly fun and upbeat songs (Life Itself and Season 2 Episode 3 come to mind) while other songs retain that Zaba tone (The Other Side of Paradise). The album's closer "Agnes" is the high point both musically and emotionally. If you enjoyed ZABA, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Expand
  5. Sep 16, 2016
    9
    How To Be A Human Being is easily my favorite record of the year. Their transition from Zaba feels seamless, inspired, and overall veryHow To Be A Human Being is easily my favorite record of the year. Their transition from Zaba feels seamless, inspired, and overall very enjoyable. Glass Animals has a very unique sound and technique with their music that I have yet to find another band that warrants this much replay value. The album has an underlying story that each song represents a different character on thw cover of the album. That alone has given this album replayability. Each song on the album feels unique.
    Favorite Tracks: Life Itself, Season 2 Episode 3, Pork Soda, The Other Side of Paradise, Take a Slice
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  6. Nov 25, 2016
    9
    An incredible album from start to finish. Zaba was great, but the songs were somewhat derivative of one another; on this record, the band turnAn incredible album from start to finish. Zaba was great, but the songs were somewhat derivative of one another; on this record, the band turn their formula on its head, and it works so damn well! Songs like Poplar St, Pork Soda and Life Itself are what I've always wanted to hear from this band, Youth is a fantastic pop song that is worthy of a place on the charts, Agnes is as perfect as a closer can get, and Cane Shuga is a foray into trap and experimental hip hop that works surprisingly well. Go listen to this and cherish it for a long time. Expand
  7. Aug 26, 2016
    4
    WARNING: Weirdly personal review incoming.

    Glass Animal's debut album, Zaba, spoke to me in a way that very little other music ever has.
    WARNING: Weirdly personal review incoming.

    Glass Animal's debut album, Zaba, spoke to me in a way that very little other music ever has. I've listened to that CD thousands of times, it's been the soundtrack to my life for two years. With that in mind, How to Be a Human Being is a crushing disappointment for me, and I'll explain why as best I can.

    Zaba, and all the music released before it (and after for a bit, GA's Joey Badass collaboration was fantastic), was special because it really was unique. The "samey" problem seems to be recurring when people talk about Zaba, but I believe there's a difference between all the songs being the same and having a distinct sound. All the songs sound similar because that was just the style of Glass Animals, period. That's the way they sounded, and that sound was explored to no end across that album, which is amazing. They mined every last drop out of that well, and yet I still wanted MORE. It was atmospheric trip-hop at its VERY BEST.
    I eagerly waited two years for Glass Animals' sophomore effort, HTBAHB, only to find that Glass Animals... doesn't sound like Glass Animals anymore. The sounds they had from the very beginning are fairly nonexistent this time around, replaced by a bombastic, indie/pop/hip-hop twist that buries all the subtlety that Zaba was absolutely drenched in. It's lighter, it's louder, it's happier, it's more mainstream. I **** hate that that word lands in my review of this album, but it feels appropriate. If you're into that, you'll probably like How to Be a Human Being. As a fan of Glass Animals' earlier works, I'm just not into that.
    This album is billed as a concept album of sorts, with each song revolving around a character created from the ground up based around experiences that Dave and the band had on the road, with fans and random people. I think the key difference may lie somewhere in here; I listened to Glass Animals for Dave Bayley's thoughts, words and stories, not other people's thoughts, words and stories. All the lyrics this time around lack that fun, esoteric mystery that all GA lyrics used to hold. An example:
    "Cocoa Hooves" - off Zaba, released possibly years earlier as an EARLY single from GA

    Let's all go with bitter Grey
    He turns his leather gripped cane,
    Those times you clapped and called for, "Quiet."
    They've come to hold you in the nights
    He packs a fight, "un partu"
    Japan make home-made perfume
    Sip froth from soft, warm joe
    It's no guide or down bake close

    And now, lyrics from Life Itself, the first look that the public and the fans got at HTBAHB:

    Daddy was dumb, said that I'd be something special
    Brought me up tough but I was a gentle human
    Said that he loved each of my two million freckles
    When I grew up, was gonna be a superstar
    I can't get a job so I live with my mom
    I take her money but not quite enough
    I sit in the car and I listen to static
    She said I look fat but I look fantastic

    You can see the difference right there. The lyrics from Life Itself are blunt, in-your-face. You understand exactly what's happening, who this person is, and why they're this way. There's no mystery, it feels like you're having someone or something explained to you second-hand. The emotions aren't felt by Dave, they're felt by the fake characters that have never felt anything, so they never feel truly genuine. HTBAHB feels so intensely like Glass Animals is trying to be something that they aren't. The lyrics "when I was a boy" or "when I was young" or some twist on those shows up in this album (not counting the times they're repeated within their respective songs) at least 4 times. The lack of creativity here is astounding.
    Maybe they're happier as people now. Maybe Dave and the band used to be miserable, and getting hugely popular in the States changed that. If so, that's amazing, and I'm so happy for them. But whatever has happened these past two years has changed their music; the bass is less prevalent, the constantly slow, deliberate, real-sounding drumbeats have been replaced by whatever setting the drum machine landed on when they picked a random number, Dave's voice doesn't lead the songs as much, the hooks are truly less unique and creepy, the tone in general is drastically different than their previous works... I could go on for hours, I really could.
    I know this shouldn't matter to me, personally. It shouldn't upset me that a band put out an album I don't care for. But this band meant so **** much to me, in my heart and my brain. They inspired me, and now it feels like after two years of radio-silence, they're turning their back on me. That sounds dramatic and stupid, but it really hurts for some reason. As a wrap-up, HTBAHB isn't all bad. I like Season 2 Episode 3 and Take A Slice, although not as much as anything on Zaba. Those two tracks carry that same classic GA swagger, with a bit of newly-found excess.

    It sucks that GA probably won't ever see this. But **** guys, please come back to me. Please.
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See all 25 User Reviews