I knew The 1975 were a piece of trash. They’re a nearly-mainstream British boyband, who’s music video for their biggest hit to date is all artsy shots of the band members smoking and driving around London, looking perpetually mopey in black leather jackets. At seemingly every live performance, the lead singer, Matt Healy, seems to be under the influence of something or another, and then continues to smoke and drink onstage. The main demographic of their audience is teenage girls.
That being said, their debut album had a great sound. The core of their songs were built up with layers of cool, tidy, electronic intricacy, so much so that it sounds as much like EDM as it does indie pop. It’s all pretty mindless and repetitive, sure, but it sounds good, good like the best remixes. So, I begrudgingly liked them, like you like someone you think is attractive, but you don’t want to talk to them because you know there’s not a lot going on under the surface.
And that’s how I felt going into their brand new album, called “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It” (which really should be called anything, anything other than that), but the album’s made me question if it is such a bad thing to love a band for their sound alone. While I’m not saying that I wholeheartedly adore every part of this album like a zombie, I definitely dig it’s vibe. The main goal of ILIWYSFYASBYSUOI (dear lord), similar to their last album, is to create sleek, young, bright, unadulterated pop, which has indeed been carried out extremely well. The tracks are all danceable, and generally, the song quality has improved from their first record.
I’ve moved on from the idea that people should only listen to good music – praising only artists who create the audible form of kale is not for me. Every once in awhile, you need some ice cream. There is no shame in that. And to me, that’s what The 1975 is: a giant bowl of gourmet ice cream. They don’t really pretend to be anything but what they are.
Something I’ve been fascinated with this band though, forgetting their music, is their complete reversal in style. While their old look, now being called by some their “black period”, involved mainly leather jackets, cigarettes and black jeans with holes in the knees, this new album, said to be the opening to their “pink period”, has involved Healy wearing eye makeup, sequins jackets, and getting a perm. The shift is striking, maybe even a little frightening in their music video for “Love Me”, their first single. It’s thrown a lot of fans. But I’m delighted with this development – it’s a hard thing for a band with a young audience to change their image, and I’m glad they had the guts to do it. It’s only with change and experimentation that musicians grow.
Their new sound has maintains the chill the first album had, but has upped the flirtiness and color several levels, drawing strongly from 80s pop, in addition to adding more depth and meaning to their songs than those of the first album. Healy has also become more than a slurry british accent with using a wider range of his voice. Their sound has diversified and evolved in a striking way, swinging from what sounds like an alien spaceship at the beginning of the album to completely acoustic guitar and vocals by the end.
Some personal favorites of mine off the album would be “UGH!”, probably the most upbeat song in the world about drug withdrawal, and “If I Believe You”, a frank conversation Healy has with God about his faith, which involves The 1975’s jazziest sax solo to date. A high point of this album is the lyrics, which, while they’ve been called “super emo”, by critics and Healy alike, they are wonderfully free from panache. There’s a great line in “A Change of Heart”, where Healy could have gone off on some moody tangent about how he’s falling apart due to drugs, but instead, he quotes a friend who told him “You look shit and smell a bit”.
I still don’t think I’d want to see them live though. Healy has proven with his acoustic work in this album that he does in fact have some musical talent when he’s not drunk or high, but despite that, no four member band can perform the electronic mastering mixed into both new and old albums with traditional instruments. While the song quality has improved, it’s still only mediocre stripped down. But that’s the case with most pop. When you eat a bowl of ice cream, it’s delusional to pretend it’s healthy for you. But of course you do it anyway, because it just tastes so good.
So if you want something smooth to chill out to, for driving, for late night homework grinds, I recommend this album. No, I’m not typing that title again.