Though its title may be a mouthful, the second album release by British alternative rock group The 1975 does not disappoint. Its music finds its home in no genre, instead drawing from a plethora of sources, most notably The Talking Heads, David Bowie, and Michael Jackson. The album fuses aspects of poppy electronic music—jumpy synths, warm chords, and heavy backbeats—with a nostalgic funk style that focuses more on distorted guitar chords and catchy baselines. The band’s lead singer, Matthew Healy, sings about girls, relationships, and, well… more girls, but his accent-tinged voice is full, backed by rich vocal harmonies. The chord progressions, while soft on the ear, evoke rare emotion and are emphasized by darker-hued synth pads under the brighter instrumental lines.
The 1975 had humble beginnings, formed in 2002 by a 15-year-old Healy. He assembled a group of musicians from his high school in Manchester, England, and a decade later, they released their debut album, The 1975. Little did the band know that in less than a week the album would hit the top of the United Kingdom charts and become its claim to fame.
The second album promises to match or even surpass the standards set by The 1975. If you want an example of the band’s funky side, the track “Love Me” is for you. It has a smash backbeat (with quite enough cowbell, thank you very much), which—combined with trumpet hits, high bending synths, and phased guitar—creates an exotic and colorful feel that could be likened to the music of Earth, Wind & Fire. In contrast, “If I Believe You” starts with muddied harmonies and the ambient sounds of a busy neighborhood. It slowly grows into a slow 6/8 ballad with a gospel choir accompanying Healy’s sonorous voice. The song goes on to include a soothingly blue trumpet solo as well as a synth part that brings to mind the electronic duo Tennyson. The end of this song gives entrance to “Somebody Else,” a lament that starts with a nostalgic and lonely electric piano line and a heartbroken Healy.
The title track, “I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It,” is immediately reminiscent of “Life in Technicolor” by Coldplay, but with the added twist of mechanical noises and a deep, resonant bass. The vocalists take their sweet time to come in, making their entrance close to the halfway point before suddenly dropping out again and remaining silent until the next song. “The Sound” is by far the most energetic and uplifting track on the album. Healy’s lyrics float on a current of warm golden harmony, driven forward by bass drum kicks on every downbeat and a catchy piano rhythm. The last two songs on the album, “Nana” and “She Lays Down,” introduce acoustic guitar into the mix. The latter is something between Bob Dylan and the Beatles, beautifully crafted with only voice and acoustic guitar.
Overall, this album can be loved by listeners of every genre and walk of life—a rare gem.
Unlike some music in the pop sphere, this album requires the musicianship and emotional connection that only an exceptional band, like The 1975, can provide.