Local music critic takes a look at The 1975

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The title of this album, like the album itself, is a bit long. “I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it” is the British band’s second full-length project, but in the months before its release it seemed as if there would be no project at all.

The band’s Twitter account, as well as the accounts of the band members themselves were all deleted in June of 2015, about six months before the album ended up being released. This led to a lot of speculation from fans, as many worried that the band had broken up.

This turned out not to be the case, as they returned to social media with a new pink and white theme, unlike their usual black and white (their first album cover was a black and white picture of a neon sign that said “The 1975”).

Matthew Healy of The 1975 performs live at the Southside Festival.  Courtesy of Markus Hillgärtner
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performs live at the Southside Festival.
Courtesy of Markus Hillgärtner

Following their publicity stunt, the band revealed in October 2015 that the album was set to release early the next year and released the lead single, “Love Me”— a funky pop song closely resembling David Bowie’s “Fame” (which happened to be released in 1975). “UGH!,” “The Sound” and “Somebody Else” were all released as singles as well, building even higher expectations for the band’s sophomore album.

“I like it when you sleep” released in February 2016, somehow exceeding the hype and reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, something the band had never done before. Not surprisingly, the album also set a new record for longest title of a No. 1 album, with an impressive 71 characters.

Just like their debut, “I like it when you sleep” opens with a short intro-track bearing their name and from there divulges into an hour-long electronic rock/pop/alternative odyssey. Opening with “Love Me” and “UGH!” the albums sound is upbeat and happy, but the fourth song, “A Change of Heart,” changes the tone as it describes lead-singer Matthew Healy’s break-up with his longtime girlfriend. The song is sad but unapologetic, saying “you used to have a face straight out of a magazine, now you just look like anyone … I just had a change of heart.” This is for sure an all-time break-up song, with lyrics that embody the same care-free message of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”

Other songs like “Somebody Else” and “Loving Someone” explore the opposite side of this, talking about moving on from a past relationship and coping with loneliness. “She’s American” follows the more happy tone from the first couple of songs, as does the thirteenth track on the album, “The Sound.”

“The Sound” is The 1975 at their pop-best, with an infectious chorus, synthesizers and a great guitar solo. Healy’s sometimes overwhelming Manchester-accent gives the band a unique sound, but he sort of conforms to a more mainstream sound now and then, which is especially heard in “The Sound.”

The album’s final few tracks slow it down and are more quiet, including two stripped down acoustic tracks — “Nana” and “She Lays Down” — that leave all the electronics and synthesizers of the rest of the album behind.

Many artists try to go for one consistent sound in their albums, but The 1975’s commitment to uniqueness and making long albums allows for more flexibility. “Paris” is the 15th of 17 songs and tells the story of one of the interesting people Healy has met.

His firsthand narrative and lyrical ability make him one of the best at this and when backed with a soft walk-down on the electric guitar it makes for a great deep-cut tune.

“I like it when you sleep” is anything but a disappointment for 1975 fans, however the bands loyalty to their sound may have prevented them from reaching out too far.

Songs like “The Sound” and “Somebody Else” show the bands versatility and ability to become more pop, but the overall sound of the album and carefully deliberate inconsistencies make this one great.

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