A Deserted Dreamland

ASEM 2547 / Winter Interterm 2021 / Prof. Benz 

Celine Hatherly

University of Denver

13 December 2021  

When I was young, my parents went out of town for a weekend and left my younger brother and I with my moms friend, Madeline to watch us. Madeline was one of my moms choral students back when my mom used to be a conductor and choir teacher at the Chicago Children’s Choir. Since then, Madeline had grown up and gone on to become a music supervisor, which is basically someone who scouts new talent and uses their music for commercials, television and movies in order for these new bands to gain positive exposure. On this particular time Madeline came to babysit us, she was telling my younger brother and I about a band called “Glass Animals” in which she discovered from Oxford, United Kingdom and was going to use of of their songs in a commercial. She would always introduce my brother and I to new music when she came to see us, and as a 12 year old then, this time I was not very interested because my attention was already caught by bands like the Jonas Brothers and One Direction, and singers like Justin Bieber. Ironically, years later as I was entering my senior year of high school in 2018, I rediscovered Glass Animals and fell in love with their album “How to Be a Human Being”. Since my rediscovery of Glass Animals, the band has become a huge part of my life, my healing, as well as my escape from reality. It was no question in my mind that if I had to chose only one album to bring with my on a deserted island, I would go with a Glass Animals album, and in this case, I would have to go with their most recent album “Dreamland” (released in 2020) in order to help me survive the isolation.

The album “Dreamland” has become a very formative part of my life. Whenever I am struggling mentally, I turn to music as a form of healing, a form of rejuvenation and a form of escapism. Dreamland was one of the very first albums that I could listen to all the way through, chronologically and on repeat for hours. Before this band and this album specifically, I had never been the type to listen to albums all the way through, rather, I would listen to artists and specific songs from album to album that I related with most. While I have listened to other albums that tell a story, Dreamland takes you almost to another world, and the music released by Glass Animals is so easy to get lost in thought with; it is almost fantastical. 

Glass Animals got their start in late 2010. Dave Bayley, the lead singer and producer, created the band with his childhood friends, Drew MacFarlane, Joe Seaward and Edmund Irwin-Singer. The band did not gain exponential exposure until 2016 when the band released their album, “How to Be a Human Being” and also went on a world tour. While the band has not gained musical nominations, their music has been highly acclaimed and has been included in several films and television series. 

The album Dreamland in particular, is about lead singer Dave Bayley’s life from his very first memories to the most recent. It is Glass Animals first autobiographical album released and it even includes snippets from home videos of Bayley’s childhood. The album is all about intimacy, and nostalgia. There are songs ranging from traumatic situations to healing experiences, all which can be very relatable to the listener. The album takes the listener through almost every emotion imaginable while still having that dream-like sound to keep you at ease. 

I imagine being isolated on a deserted island can make one feel very vulnerable and exposed. One of the most vulnerable songs on the album, called “Helium” is about falling deep in love and then feeling the pain of an excruciating heartbreak, one that you did not see coming. It is about a love that takes you to another place, so much that it fogs the reality around you, so of course you would not see the pain that would soon come. Because being deserted is usually not ones choice, being able to listen to a song like “Helium” could help an individual process their emotions of loneliness and aid them in navigating their new reality. 

Some lyrics include:

This puppy love is out of line / One more slide / And then we’re back to real life 

I knew just then I knew it was done / I guess I want you more than I thought I did. 

Following the theme of heartache and loneliness, the song “It’s All So Incredibly Loud” follows one of Bayley’s longtime relationships and all of the feelings one experiences once they realize their relationship is over and that there is nothing to do to fix the situation. It is the realization that the person you are with no longer is in love with you or feels the same as you do. It is a symbolization of a relationship ending. Its the feeling of when there is nothing left to be said, but there is also so much left unsaid and closure that you realize you will never get from the person or the ended relationship. On an island alone, without the ability to contact people you have had serious, important relationships with, one could feel helpless and realize that those relationships will never be the same, but only a memory. This song would help their thought process of this. 

Lyrics include:

Ooh were break-in down / whispers would deafen me now 

You don’t make a sound / heartbreak was never so loud 

Another song that is very critical to the albums development is the song “Domestic Bliss”. This song is about an abusive relationship (physically or mentally). It is about finding the strength to be independent and remove the negativity from your life and find a bigger purpose within not only yourself but for your future. Being deserted on an island requires a lot of independence physically, but also this song tells another narrative about independence mentally as you detach yourself from toxic cycles. This song symbolizes strength, bravery and resilience, all very important things necessary to survival on a deserted island. 

A final worthy mention from the album is the song “Heat Waves”. This song in particular was very popular and stayed on the charts for months on end. This song has a more positive tone and it talks about vulnerability and intimacy as well as unconditional love. It is about a lost love and how one will always care for this person despite the status of their relationship. It has a positive sound and it is a reminder that there are always people out there that are secretly supporting you and wishing you the best. A great song to listen to while isolated and if you are feeling lonely or hopeless, because it reminds you that people are out there thinking of you and hoping you are happy and healthy. 

Glass Animals and the album “Dreamland” helped me through a horrendous break up and severe depression and anxiety last year. Whenever I was struggling or overwhelmed, I would turn to their music in order to regain my inner strength to continue on throughout the day, even if it was only going through the motions. Something critical to maintaining life on a deserted island would be to never lose hope, and as someone who is predisposed to these mental disorders, I would need extra strength to survive the isolation of a deserted island. Having the album Dreamland would take me through each experience in my life, good and bad, and remind me of my resilience to keep on moving forward and to never lose hope because no matter the adversity I have gone through in my life, I will continue to remain determined and sustain my life wherever I may end up. 

Revisions: added a title and more links to information on the band and the album.

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