“Have you heard the new single from The 1975?”
When someone asked me this question a few weeks ago, I immediately felt like I was in 2013. The 1975 fits right in with Tumblr aesthetic, making their big debut in the era of black nail polish and YouTube fame. Around this time, you had probably heard their breakout song “Chocolate” and thought it was catchy despite understanding none of the lyrics. The band is so explicitly tied to middle school for me that when I heard they were releasing a new album, I thought I had grown out of them. Their 2018 album, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, and 2020 release, Notes on a Conditional Form, both had some great songs, but had overall fallen short among fans and critics.
Despite having low expectations, I put on their new album Being Funny in a Foreign Language on Saturday, October 15 while driving home for Fall Break. Having only been released the day before, I went in knowing nothing. And boy, oh boy, I was so pleasantly surprised! The 1975 have come back in full force, incorporating their cold, slightly depressed style with full-on love songs in a way that makes every song a complete standout.
In true The 1975 tradition, the album starts off with a track titled “The 1975.” These tracks always set the tone for the album. Unlike in Notes on a Conditional Form, which pushes five minutes and features a mesh of random audio clips including an oddly placed Greta Thunberg speech, Being Funny opens with a fast paced piano melody and a reflection on the hardships of growing up in the modern age with the glorification of mental illness. Uplifting, right? Even so, the track really sets the stage for the pop beats mixed with cynicism that is to come.
While there are truly no skips, some of my favorite songs from the new album include “Oh Caroline,” “Wintering,” and “About You.” “Oh Caroline” is one of many love songs on the album. Despite mentions of suicide, it has an incredibly upbeat baseline and captures the feeling of being so in love with someone that being around them just cheers you up. I adore the line “I’ve tried to find another name a thousand times, but the only one that rhymes is ‘Oh Caroline.’” I just love this coy remark saying that it’s impossible for them not to be right for each other because her name even rhymes in his song.
“Wintering” is a special track that I don’t think I’ll be able to fully appreciate until December. The song is about going home for Christmas to a dysfunctional family. The magic in this song is really in the way the singer delivers the line “I’ll be home on the 23rd.” Even as he acknowledges how imperfect his family is, there is so much love and warmth in that one line that captures the full emotion of the holiday season. I know that when I am curled up under a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate at my parents’ house, “Wintering” will be the song I put on to feel seen.
“About You” is the song on this album that feels the most distinctively like the version of The 1975 we knew in 2013. This is completely intentional as the band cites this song as a continuation of their song “Robbers” from their first album. While, lyrically, it is very simple, with the main hook being the repetition of the line “Do you think I have forgotten about you?”, the production really takes center stage in this song. The vocals are muted, the guitars are distorted, and the drums are so consistent it feels like I should be listening to it as I walk down a city street at night. I love that they are able to stay true to their roots and the style that made them so popular, while continuing to grow and create unique music.
Overall, Being Funny in a Foreign Language gets 5/5 stars from me. If I had to describe the vibe of this song, I think it just encaptures cuffing season. It musically and lyrically feels like a cold weather album, with its mentions of Christmastime and isolated instrumentation. The idea of longing for a loving connection while feeling stuck in a sense of loneliness runs so deeply through the album. If you are getting those feelings this time of year and want to feel seen, or are just looking for some honest, good music, you have to listen to Being Funny. If you are anything like me, I guarantee you will not be able to turn it off.