Formed in 2002 by Matty Healy, Ross MacDonald, Adam Hann and George Daniel, The 1975 has come a long way from their early days of playing punk rock songs in local pubs around their hometowns. They released their self-titled debut album, The 1975, in 2013 and continued to tour throughout the US, Europe, New Zealand and Australia with bands like Muse and The Neighbourhood. The album quickly went to the top of the UK Charts and The 1975 was finding success all across the globe with their combination of synth, pop rock and beautifully crafted lyrics.
Flash forward to February 26th, 2016 when the band dropped their second studio album, i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. Judging by the lengthy but poetic title, it was unsurprising to find that the record was filled with another collection of elegantly crafted tracks. Staying true to their sound, The 1975 manage to make synth reminiscent of the 80’s mesh perfectly with guitar heavy pop-rock ballads discussing everything from drugs and religion to mental illness and sex. As the band’s lead songwriter, Matty Healy continues to prove that age does not necessarily correlate with wisdom. At only twenty-six years old, his lyrics prove that he is as thoughtful and intelligent as he is self-aware, claiming, “If my tongue’s in my cheek, I can’t trip over it.”
If you’re looking for music to casually listen to as you do homework, clean dishes or procrastinate, this album (and perhaps this band) is not for you. However, if you are looking for an album that will make you appreciate the art of crafting poignant and purposeful music, i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it is a perfect addition to your iTunes library.
1. A Change of Heart
This song is a bit reminiscent of The 1975’s first album with its soft, instrumental tracks and synth-y beat. Perhaps what is so beautiful about this song is how perfectly melancholic it is, managing to capture the feeling of falling out of love with someone mainly by the tone of the music underneath the lyrics. In a way, the lyrics are almost like an unexpected bonus— they paint the images of falling out of love but aren’t necessarily essential to understanding the emotion of the song as a whole. This particular skill is innate to not only the band’s sound, but to Healy’s songwriting style as well.
2. She’s American
Slotted immediately after “Change of Heart,” this track is more upbeat with a seemingly 80’s pop-influenced vibe. It takes listeners through a series of observations of American culture versus British culture. The lyrics highlight things like gun culture, dental vanity and the California drought. Being American, it’s very fascinating to hear our culture recounted from someone who is not necessarily a part of it. It almost feels like it’s asking the listener to consider the perceptions— to really think about the way America is perceived by non-Americans and determine the pros and cons of that. As a whole, the song is one of the more fun listens on the album.
3. If I Believe You
The sixth song on the album expresses the incredible range that The 1975 has as a band and their ability to take any musical style and make it their own. This song has heavy soul and jazz influences, resembling a synthed-up gospel hymn which is fitting for its religious lyrical content. It discusses the struggle to find religion, to find a god who has never shown himself. Healy repeats the phrase ‘If I believe you’ over and over, increasing its hypothetical insistence as the song goes along. This track embodies the struggle of belief and the questioning that often comes with feeling as though one has been abandoned by their deity. The fusion of classic blues and jazz with a very twenty-first century struggle is brilliantly done.
Instrumentally this song is very cool. It is very guitar heavy with moving melodic lines around the central lyrics repeated over and over again. Though the chorus is only eight lines, Healy makes use of every word. On a whole, this track is very atmospheric with synth effects being used to create the impression of humming around the guitar parts. Eventually, the song builds into an explosion of a typical classic rock guitar interlude with a driving bass beat and a solid succession of drums. “Lostmyhead” is the perfect song for 2AM highway drives.
5. Somebody Else
If there’s anything that The 1975 does well, it’s breakup songs, and this track is no exception. With layered harmonies, tongue twisting rhymes and echoed sentiments, “Somebody Else” is like a typical sombre heartbreak song, but better. It encapsulates the difficulty of letting someone go after they’ve found comfort in the arms of someone else with the kind of eloquence that captures everything you’ve ever wanted to say about losing a love way more profoundly than you could say it yourself. Lines like ‘Our love has gone cold / You’re intertwining your soul with somebody else’ and ‘I’m looking through you / while you’re looking through your phone / and then leaving with somebody else’ were written to get stuck in your head.
6. She Lays Down
This one is a bonus addition because, if after listening to the other five recommendations you’re still questioning the vocal and musical talent of Matty Healy, this stripped down acoustic track will surely put your reservations to rest. Though this song is strikingly different from the rest of the album, it is meaningful all the same. With lines like, ‘The chemicals that make her love / Don’t seem to be working anymore’ and ‘She’s appalled at not loving me at all / she wears a frown and a dressing gown,’ Healy uses the lyrics to discuss his mother’s postpartum depression after his birth, proving once again that sometimes music is the closest we can come to empathy.