The 1975 released their highly anticipated second album I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It last week, much to the delight of their dedicated fanbase who have described their wait for new material as the feeling of millenniums passing. Lead singer Matty Healy announced to an interview in The Sun that, “Everything I was criticised for on the first record is amplified on this new album.” He then went on to say, “Subject-wise, it’s more open and honest. I’m more self-aware so can take the piss out of myself more.” So, does the final product live up to Healy’s declarations?
The 1975 are a band who have always stood behind a screen door as far as public relations go. There’s an air of mystery about them at all times, and it works for them as they attract fans by the thousands, all wanting to get a taste of something so hard to explain but decidedly brilliant. The opening track is just under a minute and a half long; not much of a revolutionary offering as it’s essentially identical to the first song on the band’s debut album. It’s likely something that fans will appreciate however, as it’s a statement about the quartet sticking to their guns.
Then, ‘Love Me’ the lead single for the album and the first taste that audiences had of I Like It When You Sleep. It’s the exact definition of Healy ‘taking the piss’; a brash, in-your-face pop tune that knows no bounds. ‘Ugh!’ follows, a more thoughtful track than its predecessor but still following in the pattern of 80s pop inspired material. There’s intricate programming and a huge chorus, all moulding together to create something that defies labels — it’s fresh and vintage, pop and indie, as well as one to make you daydream.
‘A Change Of Heart’ was debuted live before it was released, during the band’s first tours back from being in the studio. It slows things down, allowing listeners to focus more on the beautifully written lyrics than on attention-grabbing melodies. Healy, as a writer, clearly has suffered a lot of heartbreak and wants to make damn sure that everyone knows about it in the most ‘indie poster boy’ way possible. ‘If I Believe You’ is similar in that it draws all regard to it’s words. It’s focuses on the subject of religion and Healy’s disregard for it — his skepticism, really, but it takes a soulful approach that has him backed up by gospel vocals. “I’m broken and bleeding and begging for help / and I’m asking you Jesus, show yourself.” You can’t get much more raw and truthful than that.
‘Please Be Naked’, a four and a half minute instrumental later, and it’s ‘Lostmyhead’, which really starts to see the album delve in to the nitty-gritty. If one thought that The 1975’s change of aesthetic meant that I Like It When You Sleep was going to be a sunshine-tinged bubblegum pop record, they’d be sorely mistaken. Of course there are the upbeat tracks — ‘She’s American’, for example — but The 1975 don’t stray far from home in laying down a few dark, cloak-and-dagger numbers too. ‘The Ballad of Me and My Brain’ is the go-to if listeners are looking for reliability RE: mental illness. Healy is no stranger to the suffering, and neither are the rest of the band.
‘Somebody Else’ is very much a slow jam, yet again reflecting the band’s 80’s influences, then ‘Loving Someone’ sees Healy ‘talk-singing’ about how he’s “the Greek economy of cashing intellectual cheques.” Despite I Like It When You Sleep’s wild variation as far as track to track goes, it actually melds together rather intelligently in to a record that is well deserved of its number one spot in over 37 countries.
The album’s title track is another instrumental, kicking off soft and sweet before taking on an EDM vibe. ‘The Sound’ is The 1975’s brand new single, complete with a video that already has over a million views just six days after its release. It’s catchy, which is unsurprising but it’s the visuals that piques the most interest — it shows The 1975 in a glass box, while people dressed all in white surround it, ridiculing them. The captions that pop up are real quotes that the media and public alike have used to describe the foursome, and it just goes to show you how little they care about what people think.
‘This Must Be My Dream’ and ‘Paris’ are both tracks designed to make the listener think. They couldn’t be more different beyond that though — the former focuses on blossoming romance, while the latter is another ballad of Healy being a lost soul. The 1975 are nothing if not a relatable band, and that’s likely why they have so many thousands of die-hard fans. Everyone needs an escape, including Healy, drummer George Daniel, guitarist Adam Hann and bassist Ross Macdonald, but for The 1975 fans, the escape is through the music.
‘Nana’ pulls right on the heartstrings, an acoustic gem dedicated to Healy’s late grandmother. It’s not as ‘wordy’ as the other tracks on the album, which just showcases how heartfelt it is on the singer’s part. “If I live past 72, I hope I’m half as cool as you.”
The 1975 could’ve quite easily ended this fantastic record with an exceptionally loud bang, but instead they decided to finish off with another touching acoustic tune. Some may consider it a bad place to end, but for the quartet it’s entirely fitting — the album ‘fizzles out’ gorgeously with ‘She Lays Down‘, bringing to an end an utter masterpiece that will be inspiring generations for years to come.