Album Review: The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

By on Thursday, 25th February 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

The 1975 - I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it album coverSince their dramatic exit from Facebook last year, however temporary – that turned out to be a rather effective publicity stunt, didn’t it? – The 1975 return this week with their second full-length album. It’s rather apropos that ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’ itself is a mouthful, as this sophomore effort from the Manchester indie darlings contains a whopping 17 tracks, making the LP longer than most released these days. Then again, their self-titled debut in 2013 had 16 tracks. You can view this one of two ways: either the group has a lot of say and want to use the album platform to say it, or in its full 75 minutes of glory, their trouble with self-editing is evident in this exercise in self-indulgence.

Just like ‘The 1975’ before it, ‘I like it when you sleep…’ has a lot of great single moments, providing a great snapshot of what pop looks like in 2016: loads of electronic warblings, bubbly synth lines, handclaps and tacked-on backing vocals. On the singles front, the already revealed super funky ‘Love Me’ (reviewed and discussed in depth in my previous post here) and ‘UGH!’ are fantastic examples of 21st century pop. As catchy earworms with bouncy guitars, they’re the perfect antidote to this dreary winter weather, conjuring up girls in miniskirts (likely) and guys in shorts (somewhat less likely?) bopping to these melodies, come summer festival time.

Probably a fond recollection of a short-lived fling of Matthew Healy’s mixed together with a veiled commentary of America, ‘She’s American’ is as remarkable in its lyrical content as ‘Love Me’. It sports the hilarious Austin Powers-esque line in the chorus, “if she says I gotta fix my teeth, then she’s so American”. Mentions of the girl’s anorexia and perceived superiority aren’t usual pop song fodder, and the words “and I think she’s got a gun divinely decreed and custom made” speaks to this nation’s gun problem and the power of the religious right in one fell swoop.

‘The Ballad of Me and My Brain’ is not a ballad of the usual variety either: it’s an opportunity for Healy to be introspective on the price of success. He muses out loud that his brain has been last seen in a Sainsbury’s where he was flirting with his fans, while bemoaning the sharp disconnect between what his public persona has done to his way of thinking and acting (recoiling from it) and what his mind really thinks about the whole ridiculous situation. If you read the comments from a lot of The 1975’s detractors, you’ll see that they’re often called pretentious twats. These kind of lyrics prove they’re anything but.

Also like the previous release, one wonders if trimming some of the fat for a leaner, meaner product would have made much more sense. A disappointment to the fans, I’m sure, but ‘Please Be Naked’ is an instrumental, as is ‘Lostmyhead’ and most of the title track, which has a jarring, dubby bridge near its end. ‘I like it when you sleep…’ also suffers from pacing that does it no favours. Slower, lounge-y numbers – ‘If I Believe You’ with its autotuned vocals, plus regret in the form of ‘80s groove ‘Somebody Else’ paired with its complement ‘Loving Someone’ – break up the momentum of the poppier moments. Near the end, a beloved grandmother is eulogized in ‘Nana’: good effort, but an odd choice in the midst of this album. The better of the more languid tracks, ‘A Change of Heart’ (1-minute preview below) has a mildly childish synth wigging and warbling away and a very basic yet mellow rhythm, while Healy expresses his 180 in feelings for a former love.

In an interview this month with NME, Healy was asked about what he perceives is his and The 1975’s role in the music scene. “If you don’t want your art to reach people, that negates you as an artist,” says Matt. “I hate that indie band bullsh*t of acting like you don’t care so you don’t get judged about being sh*t. That’s what indie is now. That fey sense of ‘we don’t care’. Well, don’t do it then. F**k off and do something else.” While The 1975 have certainly elicited either a strong feeling of love or hate from the public, Healy knows intellectually where his band’s place in popular music is. And he’s still going write songs like he wants to and broadcast them from the pedestal they’re on. This album is proof of that. Its title seems to suggest that there is so much more below the surface of a man or a woman, but because we can’t get past the surface, we never see it. Much like how The 1975 are perceived and what they’re doing with their art.

7/10

‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’, The 1975’s second album, will be out this Friday on Dirty Hit Records. The artwork from their forthcoming album will be exhibited at two pop-up shops – one in New York City’s Lower East Side on Friday and another in London’s Leicester Square (unclear when) – and the band will also be appearing at these events.
The band will also be touring next month in the UK in support of the new album. For all things on The 1975 on TGTF, go here.

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