Is this a joke?
They’re essentially making robotic Huwey Lewis tunes
There’s no real danger in this music at all
Unconvincing emo lyrics
This band thinks it has a charismatic singer… they are mistaken
Pompous arena sythn-pop
These are some of the real-life quotes plastered across a pastel pink screen in The 1975’s latest music video for single The Sound. Real quotes from real critics. What do the band have to say about this? Presumably, “We don’t give a fuck”. Oh, but they do.
For some reason, The 1975 have the Marmite effect. Singer Matty Healey is either viewed as some sort of modern day prophet, or the face of everything that is wrong with our generation. Perhaps this is precisely why this album has so much and at the same time absolutely nothing, to prove. Musicians love music; they want to make music, perform music and share music. Why then, should they be hurt or affected in some way by negative critics? The point is, music is supposed to be a good thing, something we can share and celebrate together - I think it’s clear The 1975 get this.
The Album’s title - I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It -is hard to ignore. An obvious expression of how self-aware this band are, this is pointed sarcasm aimed at the critics: “Look how pretentious we can be!” They get it, some people are just going to hate them, so they can get on with doing that thing they’re really good at - music.
Love Me, the first single from the album, is mind-blowingly brilliant. From the funky bass to the synths to that signature guitar. The band have retained their unmistakable sound, but evolved enough to escape repetition. The video sees Healey in blue eyeshadow and Mick Jagger leather trousers with no shirt, drunkenly stumbling between cardboard cutouts of notably ‘controversial’ pop stars such as Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Harry Styles. He sings, “Next thing you’ll find you’re reading about yourself on a plane, fame, what a shame.” Love Me is a comment on modern day celebrity culture and coping with the kind of fame where everyone feels entitled to an opinion of you, all of which Matty has had to deal with in the first degree. The lyric “This conversation ain’t about reciprocation no more / But I’m gonna wait until you’re finished so I can talk some more” suggests tiredness with all of it.
The Sound and If I Believe You, bring a level of gospel to the album. The Sound is amazingly feel good; I dare you to walk along listening to it and keep a smile off your face. If I Believe You is melodically beautiful and lyrically honest. Healey deals with existential crisis by turning desperately to religion as a last resort, “If I believe you, will that make it stop? / … I’m begging for help and I’m asking you Jesus / Show yourself”. Delicate strings and ambient synths play him out of his spiritual cry into the abyss.
This album has many levels. UGH!, She’s American, Somebody Else, This Must Be My Dream, and Paris are all rich, well-written alternative pop songs. I think Huwey Lewis would quite frankly be flattered to be compared to The 1975. On the other hand, Please Be Naked, Lostmyhead and the title track (forgive me for not typing that out again) create pulsating, shimmering soundscapes as the band display intelligent creativity and confidence with electronic production. The music doesn’t always need Healey’s lyrics to speak for itself.
However, it is Matty Healey’s brain, taking the role of protagonist, which is behind what makes this album magic. In a recent interview with NME he declared “The world needs this album”. This isn’t as arrogant as it sounds. They aren’t afraid to be called ‘mainstream’; why else do you make music if you don’t want as many people as possible to hear it? This band are all about continuing to produce art that builds on their previous work. Several songs on the album reference their previous stuff in order to move forward. Healey sings on A Change Of Heart “I feel as though I was deceived / I never found love in the city”, harking back to The City from their previous album. There is a strong sense of disillusionment and, indeed, a change of heart on this LP. The band isn’t brand new anymore - they’re growing and so is their art.
The album closes with two heartbreaking tracks: Nana and She Lays Down. Both are beautiful, delicate and intensely personal songs of loss and painful family relationships. The kind of hardship that might affect anyone, not just a self-conscious, pained pop star. It might seem odd to end an album on such a low note, but somehow it just makes me admire them even more.
This isn’t a concept album. It doesn’t flow from track to track in a coherent manner. Every song is a surprise. And yet, every one is as good as the last. You can make fun of Matty’s lyrics, call The 1975 just another pretentious indie band, or refuse to listen to them based on something you read on Twitter once, but you would honestly be wasting your breath. I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It is a clever, challenging mergence of distinctive instrumentation, electronic production and curiously personal lyrics. The world needed this album, and it got it.