There are very few artists who have managed to capture what it’s like to witness domestic abuse. Among these is Glass Animals with their song, “Domestic Bliss.”
Stream: “Domestic Bliss” – Glass Animals
When Dave Bayley, frontman of Glass Animals, said that their latest album Dreamland would have several particularly sad songs, no one thought they would be able to top “Agnes” (from their second album How To Be A Human Being). Then “Domestic Bliss” came out. Once again, the Oxford band has struck deep into the listener’s hearts, whilst dealing with a current and delicate topic: domestic violence.
I see the bruise, I see the truth
I see what he been doin ‘to you
Blood on the shoes, what’s his excuse?
He says he’s doing some new kung-fu
You always use his bullshit excuse
But I see what he been doin ‘to you
The song made its debut on August 7th, on their latest album Dreamland. Although it was not presented as a single, it immediately stands out, as well as showcasing its main themes straight away. In explaining the context behind it, Bayley confessed that he was inspired by the story of the mother of a childhood friend, a victim of domestic violence.
I was too young to understand why she had blood on her nose… It was one of the toughest to write because it didn’t feel like my story to tell, but it also felt like a story that needed to be told.
Some may consider it a return to How To Be A Human Being, but that’s not exactly the case. In their second album, Glass Animals tell the stories of people they’ve met. They’re excellent at it, but the tales are being told from an outsider’s perspective. Here, instead, Bayley gets more involved by narrating experiences that left a deep impression on him. These are mostly uncomfortable, sad and at times dark episodes, which weren’t easy for the singer to share. In a recent interview with Atwood Magazine about “Domestic Bliss”, Bayley said it’s “really uncomfortable territory. It’s not a nice memory – that’s my first memory … [and it] was a really formative memory. That experience definitely changed the way I see the world, and behave, and treat people, and think.”
In “Domestic Bliss”, Bayley describes one of the worst situations anyone can find themselves in with great care. As a child, it was a traumatic experience for him, and so he describes it simply, showing every little detail through the eyes of a person who has taken years to realise what was behind the terrible scene that they had witnessed.
He got balloons, new flowers, too
Last one’s dyin ‘in your bedroom
He squeezin ‘you, blame-blamin’ you
Mama just usin ‘her red perfume
Bayley sings as if he were right there, in his childhood’s friend’s shoes. He almost seems to suffer along with the woman he refers to, begging her to run away and finally begin a new, joyful life. The message is full of hope, as the light tones of the song seem to show. A sadly necessary encouragement, especially after the increasing number of femicides – all over the world – during the past few months of lockdown
A particularly touching moment in the song comes midway through, when Bayley whispers a few heartbreaking words. Even if he’s trying to convince an abuse victim to escape, he knows how much it would hurt to do so. He is completely aware of how much she never wanted to find herself in this situation.
I know how bad you wanted it
Dave Bayley’s memories blend with his friend’s thoughts, merging and giving life to a powerful crescendo. Whereas the first half deals with the physical and psychological abuse that the woman suffers through, the second focuses on a desire for freedom and peace. It is a hard, painful work of art, but also surprisingly sweet, especially towards the end. Just how a child would come to understand such a situation.
Fight for me
We can leave, I’m beggin ‘, please
On my-on my knees, go to Hawaii
Fight for me, say, “We can leave,” I’m beggin ‘, please
On my-on my knees
As is implicitly claimed at the beginning of the song “Dreamland“, each song on this album was made to “unopen you”. The melodies and the lyrics know how to slither inside, grab the darkest part of you and force you to look at it.
You come to close in on yourself and reach a private and intimate space that is yours and yours alone. Traumas that you thought were long since buried are brought back to life. You face your biggest insecurities, but you come out more self-aware and serene than before. In the end, Dreamland doesn’t want us to know that everything will always be fine, quite the contrary. There will be particularly sad, bleak, dark and tragic moments. Sometimes things will get easier, other times there will be pain. The important thing, however, is to be fully aware of it, and to be able to live without the burden of all you’ve been through. Dreamland is learning to cocoon oneself in order to re-emerge ready to face the world, and perhaps even happiness.
Stream: “Domestic Bliss” – Glass Animals
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📸 © Pooneh Ghana
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