When “Dreamland” by Glass Animals came out, I was pretty reluctant to give it a listen. But since some verses from “Heat Waves” seem to be a trending sound on TikTok, I finally decided to give the album a chance. It has been one of the better decisions I took, and I will tell you now why you’ll listen to this album on repeat (on repeat, on repeat).
Nostalgia in the present day
One central theme of “Dreamland” is nostalgia. Throughout the album, there are countless references to pop-culture from the late ‘90s and the early 2000s, such as GTA or the show “Friends”. They usually add up to supporting or reveling another theme, but they are nice Easter eggs for people who lived in those times.
But even more than just reminiscing about old days, the “narrator” from “Dreamland” also thinks about the good old days, separate from a brand identity. This longing for the old times and making new memories is a sentiment that everyone has been feeling during this pandemic. The most listened song from this album, “Heat Waves”, tackles exactly this issue, along with the unpleasant things that come with it, such as trying to escape them:
Sometimes, all I think about is you Late nights in the middle of June Heat waves been fakin' me out Can't make you happier now
Gender roles and how they affect us
Gender roles is another subject that’s very important to this album. The last verses of the track “Dreamland” are the ones that introduce gender roles, and specifically masculinity, as a very important element:
You go ask your questions like, "What makes a man?" Oh, it's 2020, so it's time to change that So you go make an album and call it Dreamland
Alternatively, songs such as “Domestic Bliss” or “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” are putting masculinity under the scope, and question it. In “Domestic Bliss”, the album tries to show that this toxic masculinity, paired with a culture that shames women and teaches them to be obedient, can result in an abusive home life. In the song, the mother is physically abused by the father, and this has later negative effects on their child.
In “Space Ghost Coast to Coast”, this violent side of masculinity is yet again questioned, since the narrator is talking about a childhood friend that has committed a crime. The narrator begins to question what exactly drove his childhood friend to do such a heinous act. Was it the gender norms that are forced onto us, the difficult family life, the lack of positive male models? “Dreamland” is as inquisitive as feminism and is. I’d like to believe that we have begun to actively question the traditional mold and its more bad components.
Life as a performance in a Dreamland
Along with themes such as gender issues and nostalgia, this overall feeling that we are all performing our lives in front of other people is present in this album, and I would argue that it ties everything together.
Firstly, we have the song “Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth” that directly condemns how desperately we try to paint a much cooler persona in front of someone we recently started dating:
Ooh, who are you hiding? White Russians and dirty diamonds You fake your shyness I just wish that I could see through you
Both “Hot Sugar” and “Tokyo Drifting” are talking about performing as someone better or wishing to become someone better. In “Tokyo Drifting”, Dave Bayley, the vocalist, adopts a cooler alter ego, Wavey Davey, to pull off the coolness of this song. “Hot Sugar” is about being envious of someone new. Even if the narrator doesn’t know this new person that well, since they never talk too much, he seems to be really envious of the laid-back way they carry themselves and their cool demeanor.
“Dreamland” is one of the best albums you can listen to, especially after these years where we all stayed in our homes, brooding over the same memories that kept on haunting us. Even if you want to chill, feel understood or just vibe to some music, you should try listening to “Dreamland”. If you like that, you can find even more music recommendations in this article.