Evolution first brought you the group Glass Animals in late 2014, with their earworm track, Gooey. You might remember lead singer, Dave Bayley singing his heart out about “peanut butter vibes”?
Then we brought you their song Youth, where they completely changed the vibe of their lyrical content addressing biographical instances of life, like a boy losing his mother. Their sophomore effort How To Be A Human Being was well received, garnering them a nomination for this year’s Mercury Prize.
The hard truths found on the album truly shine on the last track, Agnes, which Bayley has said is his favourite song he’s ever written.
If you dive straight into the video for this one, you might be a little bit lost as to what’s exactly happening in it. Like “why is his face contorting like that?” or “why does he seem to be in physical pain?”
If you find yourself asking those questions, or if you don’t ask any questions and just take it in at first, you may think it’s just something strange and unusual. If you do come to that conclusion, any sort of lingering thoughts in your mind will be addressed within a post which Bayley made on the group’s Instagram:
dear friends…nervously excited to share with you the video for Agnes. it’s hard to explain exactly how it feels inside a human centrifuge. you sit in a small egg-like pod about the size of a horse which hangs off a 50 foot steel horizontal frame. It looks like something out of a bond villain’s lair. it’s claustrophobic and uncomfortable and also incredibly hot. slowly the whole thing starts to rotate like a helicopter blade. Faster and faster until every part of you becomes crushed under the extreme gravity. its like being slowly sat on by an elephant, or like your whole body being punched in slow motion. you have to flex every muscle and use every ounce of strength you have to keep going. breathing requires serious effort. movement becomes incredibly strained and almost painful. everything that once weighed 5 kilograms now weighs 50. its difficult even to keep your eyes open. it hurts in places you really didn’t know existed. veins and capillaries burst under the pressure and bruising begins. its a rapid physical overdrive. the blood rushes from your brain making it impossible to think rationally or focus. your eyes are also drained and you get tunnel vision…only able to see small circles of the world directly infront of you and your sight goes completely greyscale…no more colour. your balance and spatial awareness goes and the world begins to spin like you’ve had way too much to drink. but the most striking thing is the way that the machine pulls on your heart. you can actually feel it struggling to beat and changing shape…flattening inside of your chest. Its similar to that horrible sinking, tugging heartache that comes only with complete and overwhelming sadness. and then you pass out. we ran the centrifuge 18 times while i tried to sing along to a song which i find difficult to listen to at the best of times. this was probably the most intense video-making experience I’ll ever have. But its the only way that we could just about begin to simulate for a moment what happens within Agnes. speak soon, dave (video link in bio)
The song chronicles the loss of a loved one to drugs, and though the subject is specific with details of the mannerisms of the person who’s passed away, the raw pain heard in Bayley’s voice rings through. As described in the post, recording, writing, and performing the song has been a very personal and painful experience for Bayley.
Last year they played the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, but did not perform Agnes, as it was still a raw wound, difficult to even talk about. So, Vancouver has never heard the song live. Last month I went down to Seattle with my best friend to see the group perform at the WaMu Theater. They played it; their last song before the encore.
I’ve seen a lot of performances in my short time, and only one other time have I felt the same physical pain when hearing a song live. Not the kind you get from being beaten up against a barrier, or pushed around in a pit. The kind that is caused by great emotional distress to the point where you actually feel a stitch in your side, and you violently begin to sob while thinking of a major loss in your life, or a loss suffered by your best friend that you feel so deeply you can’t help but cry.
There are songs in life that just resonate with you, that just remain a part of you for the rest of your life – maybe something you remember your mum playing when you were a kid or a track that someone you had a crush on really liked – and Agnes is one of those songs for me. Though that sense of loss is more empathetically felt by me, it is not in the same way Bayley’s voice tenderly caresses each word of Agnes.
Find Glass Animals and welcome them into your musical library: