The 1975 are a band that are proving to be quite divisive as time goes on. Their self-titled debut album had them unfairly pigeonholed by many. Based mostly off of the singles ‘Sex’ and ‘Chocolate’, the band were written off as an Alternative Rock group who were far too influenced by Pop to really give the rough edged face of Rock any justice. This narrative completely ignored that The 1975 are one of the most witty, self-aware and exciting new acts to come out of the UK in recent memory, and certainly not one aiming to be a Rock band. They created a debut riddled with self-doubt, misanthropy and sexual conquest in frontman Matt Healy’s lyrics, and stylistically the album was a culmination of the so many influences the band held. As a result their debut went platinum despite some critics’ best efforts to make the band something to not be taken seriously.
In recent interviews, the group have stated how Rock music has become stale, and that the punk of the modern age comes in the form of Hip-Hop and Pop music. They’re not wrong, experimental Pop has become more prevalent in the mainstream thanks to acts like Kanye West, Beyoncé and even Rihanna’s recent album, whose crossover success has made experimentation something that’s sought after within mainstream audiences. ‘I Like It When You Sleep…’ tries to push this further, making an album that will appeal to an age where playlists are becoming more important than the album format itself.
They do this by essentially taking the format of their first album, expanding on it and using the template to let their artistry grow. When the band originally posted the track list for the album, the title said ‘The 1975 II’, and it’s appropriate as this is a sequel in every sense of the word. The opening track for the album (once again called ‘The 1975’) takes the atmospheric opener from their first album and reinterprets it into something much more grand with the vocals sounding like they’re being performed in a grand hall.
The song that follows, ‘Love Me’ takes the critical attitude that the band have always had lyrically and applies to their post-success world. In the light of getting a co-sign from Taylor Swift, the rumour mill started that lead singer Matt Healy and the Pop singer were dating despite having no evidence to support this. This is just a fraction of the world that Matt Healy has got himself involved in since the success of their last album, and the reality that the world is superficial and judgemental, and being in the limelight amplifies that. He sings of ‘Karkrashian Panache’ and how a female acquaintance has ‘A beautiful face but got nothing to say’, his lyricism is sharp and witty as he takes down the culture he’s become very much a part of.
Matt Healy is someone who pours his self-doubt and addictions into his music better than any of the tame Rock stars of the modern age. On the song ‘If I Believe’ Matt Healy reveals the struggles that he goes through in being an Atheist, asking if he were able to have faith in someone or something, would his pain and suffering stop? It’s a simple subject that’s elevated by Healy’s lyrical prowess and his emotive delivery. ‘The Ballad Of Me And My Brain’ also sees Healy reflecting as he refers to how he feels his brain acts in a way that he has no control of. The difference between the gentle delivery of ‘If I Believe’ to the manic delivery of ‘The Ballad Of Me And My Brain’ shows how much of a firecracker the frontman is.
Many of the songs on this album are call backs to their 2013 debut, with them expanding on the themes in more depth. ‘Change Of Heart’ sees Healy singing of the love that he was searching for on previous songs. Healy details the contrasting feelings of falling out of love with someone, with him flipping his own ‘face straight out a magazine’ lyric from a previous song ‘Robbers’ on its’ head to sound like a bitter ending. The song ‘Somebody Else’ sees Healy going through the possessive healing process of finding out someone you used to love is seeing someone else, ‘I Don’t want your body, but I hate to think about you with somebody else’ he sings before having to convince himself of this by singing the line ‘I don’t want your body’ to himself over and over again.
Much like the first album, the sonic theme that ties this album together is Pop music. The band wear their diverse influences on their sleeve including Shoegaze on the beautiful, ‘lostmyhead’ which takes the aesthetic of bands like My Bloody Valentine and mixes it with Matt Healy’s knack for melodies. 80s Pop is something that they embrace harder on this album than they did on their last album, with the aforementioned lead single, ‘Love Me’ mixing Aerosmith and Duran Duran, with a jangly guitar line and more of their fantastic percussion that they showed off on their first album. But The 1975 don’t want to be held back by the fact that many of their sounds are something that has been done in the past, as this is a band that are still experimenting and pushing the sounds of today.
There are an enormous amount of sounds that The 1975 work through on this album. Their production skills are immense with songs like, ‘If I Believe’ taking a simple drum pattern as its foundation and adding so many different slices of instrumentation to it throughout. This includes stunning plucked strings and one of the many uses of Healy’s vocals being sampled and manipulated. On the flip side the two ambient tracks, ‘Please Be Naked’ and the title track are pieces of ambient beauty, with the title track sounding similar to ‘Kid A’ era Radiohead, only with more optimism. ‘She’s American’ and ‘This Must Be My Dream’ shows how the band are still able to make the sort of songs that gave them their huge fan base in the first place; with memorable hooks, witty lyrics and great musicianship.
The 1975 are a band that demands your attention, and deserve more attention from the critics who are set on not taking them seriously. All art should be divisive, and The 1975 are that band who’re taking risks within Pop music and are proving themselves critic proof. They’re doing what everyone wants of our Pop acts: they’re making something that’s adapting to the times while remembering the past; they’re making music that’s highly ambitious while never belittling their listeners. Pay attention.
Best Tracks: Ugh!, Love Me, The Sound, Somebody Else, Please Be Naked, lostmyhead