The 1975’s self titled debut release was an album I needed to hear in 2013. It remains one of my favourite albums to date. When they announced follow up plans, leaving fans to wait until 2016 for a new album, I was nervous. The band’s sophomore release, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, is a continuation from where the band left us hanging. While it sounds totally different, it still possesses that fantastic element that makes The 1975, well, The 1975. It can be easily argued that this album is unoriginal, but The 1975 have always had something slightly different about them that makes them believable. If any other band made music like this today, would it be believable? This album, while more daring than their previous, is somehow more humble. It’s coming down from the high that was their previous album, and is soaked in self-reflection. This album is like recovery - it’s much less egocentric. Lead singer Matty Healy often comes off as precocious in interviews and in his demeanour, but this record was a prime songwriting opportunity to poke fun at ego.
I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It is an emotional investment. It begins with “The 1975”, in almost the exact same fashion as their self-titled album. This track is almost identical to the 2013 version, however is much more vamped up - with stronger, more upfront vocals and a more ethereal feel than the previous version. Before you can get too carried away, the track ends abruptly and crashes into “Love Me” - the first single taken from the album. It’s a sporadic, satirical track. While it’s dreamy, it’s upfront and totally pop, and commands your attention. It’s no surprise that this was chosen as the lead single, as it makes the statement that The 1975 are back, and more in your face than ever before.
“UGH!” was the second single taken from the album, and it follows “Love Me.” You’ll probably find yourself singing along to the chorus, and noting the autobiographical lyrics that depict Matty’s cocaine addiction. “A Change Of Heart” is unlike any other song of theirs. The sound of it is straight from the 80’s, but it’s a ballad that will still hold up as relevant in this day and age. Cleverly constructed in lyrical references to old tracks such as “Robbers” ("You used to have a face straight out a magazine") and “The City” ("I never found love in the city") come across perfectly - subtle enough that fans will notice, but not cliche and just thrown in there for the sake of it.
“She’s American” slides into the mix in shimmering fashion next. It has a catchy hook from the beginning, and sounds like glitter, if you can imagine what glitter would sound like. The verses are huge and totally 1980’s, and the saxophone solo is reminiscent of “Heart Out” and seals that signature 1975 vibe. “If I Believe You” starts off haunting, with more of a 70’s feel if anything, and has a gentle swing. There is serious soul influence on this track, and stellar vocals keep you captivated. The spiritual undertone of the lyrics is extremely interesting - it doesn’t take a stand on religion, but is a question of, if I believe in you, what will happen? What’s beautiful about this song is that you don’t have to believe anything, it just takes you on a six minute spiritual journey anyways. Just when you think this song can be pigeonholed into a certain era, the trumpet towards the end shifts the song to a 1930’s soft, smoky jazz vibe.
Given the title of “Please Be Naked”, I was shocked at the soft gentle piano intro, and basically, the entire song, as it’s all instrumental. Typically, the 1975’s instrumental tracks have a lot more complex or strange titles. The laid backness of this track reminds me of some of the works of Brian Eno. “Lostmyhead” picks up from where Please Be Naked leaves off. It shares a similar sound to tracks like "Medicine", or songs off their last album. Right as you get tired of the song it picks up, and is another track that utilizes instrumentals.
“The Ballad of Me and My Brain” brings us back to some synths, abrasive vocals that take center stage. It’s a nice balance of instrumentals but without taking away from the lyrics. It’s definitely one of the songs on the album that I wish was longer. “Somebody Else” follows with some serious synth and 808s. It’s dynamic and different although sounding familiar.
“Loving Someone” has a really familiar chorus, and the rest of the song is carried by syncopated speech. To me, it's extremely reminiscent of “So Far (It’s Alright)”, and is a really mellow track. “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It” is the title of the bombastic album as well as track twelve on the album. It’s almost all instrumental, with occasional haunting vocals. This song is executed in an interesting way, as it feels like three different songs in one. It definitely a different instrumental feel from “Please Be Naked.” About halfway through the song, it begins to sound like the soundtrack to a video game. The last minute of the song takes off in a totally different direction from where the track began.
“The Sound” follows up, and is easily one of my favourite 1975 songs ever. The sweeping crescendo of an intro catches you from the beginning, and the synth captivates you. Lyrically, it’s snide and brilliant. Every aspect of this song is perfect, and it sticks in your ears. Not to mention, the final guitar solo shreds. “This Must Be My Dream” has captivating vocals complimented by a nice, easy to sing along to melody. Before the song becomes repetitive, the saxophone takes over, and will keep your interest.
“Paris” starts off with a lick that sounds very familiar. This song is a story, which reminds me of their previous album and EPs. It’s more of a conversation, and while that may not be relatable, it’s definitely an interesting listen. I expected the second last track, “Nana”, to be a piano ballad, or something like that. However, it’s unlike anything they’ve done before as an official release. It’s simple, stripped down guitar, instrumentally basic, but highlighted with personal lyrics. Compared to the way Matty speaks in real life, the simple words in this song does not sound like him at all. This song comes across as a tribute and a coming to terms with the death of his grandmother, until the final line: “I think you can tell/I haven’t been doing too well” is sung, and breaks your heart.
I was surprised with “She Lays Down”, the final track of the album. It’s simple guitar again that sounds painfully familiar perhaps in the simplicity of how the song is constructed. If I can compare it musically to anything, it reminds me of “102”, a song they’ve never officially released. In comparison, this track closes the album in the same way as “Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You” closed The 1975, as both tracks are about Matty’s family. This song is extremely personal story telling again, and is quite depressing. You’d expect a bigger album closer, but in so many ways, this is better, because this is real.
I don’t know how they pulled this one off, but they did. Maybe because I truly enjoy their music I am biased, but I do second the band's statement: the world needs to hear this album. Not because it’s revolutionary, not because it’s trailblazing and never been done before. The world needs to hear this album simply because of the creative efforts and investment that was bled into it. This is dedication to the art of music, and taking the expressive liberty in creating an album that screams familiarity, but with a refreshing lyrical and musical take on things. The 1975 know the sound of their hearts - and that is what makes them stand out.
I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It is out February 26th via Dirty Hit/Polydor.
Download: “The Sound”, “The Ballad of Me and My Brain”, “She’s American”