The breakout band from Manchester first hit the scene in 2012 with a string of EP’s that would lay the groundwork’s to their fantastic Self Titled record, The 1975. This album was all over the place stylistically, with elements of indie rock, RnB, new wave and shoegaze, producing some great tracks, but somewhat lacking a proper narrative. Since its release, fans have been eagerly awaiting the sophomore record from The 1975, and its taken its time, but its finally here, in the form of the ridiculously titled, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It.
This album shares a lot with its predecessor, in that it still aims to bend genres and pop music. Take songs like ‘Love Me’, the albums real opening track, is a clearly 80’s inspired song with influences ranging from Peter Gabriel to Bowie, dealing with the problems that come with fame and the nihilism around it. A funky bass line drives the song, and very sharp 80’s guitar riff during the chorus that just makes you want to dance, and features a new for the band, a guitar solo! (which guitarist Adam Hann pulls off extremely well).
But the 80’s influences don’t stop there. With songs like ‘UGH!’, ‘She’s American’ and ‘This Must Be My Dream’ taking a similar direction. One thing that is notable about all these songs is that the lyrics are very self aware, and put front man Mathew Healy in a position where he is very personal about himself.
Mental Health isn’t something new for The 1975 to write songs about, however in this record Healy faces these issues that he has face on, like in the stand out song ‘The Ballad Of Me And My Brain’. Healy spends 3 minutes confused and lost, trying to locate his brain. The song features a beautiful gospel choir at the start and a glistening piano in the background which contrasts wonderfully with the heavy reverb on the guitars, and Healy’s raw vocals.
The concept of losing ones’ head is one that pops up a lot in this album, like in ‘If I Believe You’. The song features Healey pleading to some higher power, trying to understand why it does the things it does, if it exists. It deals with many questions atheists ask about religion in a very respectful way. And then there’s the track ‘LostMyHead’, an instrumental which would have fitted easily onto the My Bloody Valentines – Loveless record very easily. It is drowned in reverb and, as the title sort of suggests, it is easy to lose yourself in this song. It’s the kind of song you want to drive around at night to.
There are a lot of themes that run through the album. The stand out lyric “what a shame” that is spoken many times throughout the album. Sometimes used Ironically like in ‘Love Me’, and other times much more genuinely in songs like Paris, a simple song where Healey reminisces about the past, seemingly quite toxic relationship. It gives off the same sentiment that the song You from their Sex EP did. Healy’s lyrics are best when he’s describing the painful situations and people he’s met Paris is no exception.
One of the stand out songs, ‘Loving Someone’, is a throwback to ‘Menswear’ from the first album. But where ‘Menswear’ felt like a drunken person expressing how they feel, Loving Someone feels sober and aggressive. It opens up quite sinisterly, with high pitched voices telling the user we should be ‘Loving Someone’. Healey spends the song almost critiquing modern day society and its effect on the youth in an almost rapped way. The production is finest here, with multiple layers of synths, ghostly samples in the background, and an incredibly aggressive beat.
The album ends off with two acoustic ballads, ‘Nana’ and ‘She Lay Down’, akin to the way the Self Titled album ended with ‘Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You?’. ‘Nana’ is quite self explanatory, a sweet, ethereal song about Mathew missing his grandmother and wanting to show her how well he’s done with his life, wondering if she would be proud. And ‘She Lays Down’. The production on this song is minimal and raw, with only Healy and a guitar, he talks about his mother’s post natal depression. Healy’s vocal performance feels very innocent and vulnerable in this track, which really helps drives how this affected him and made him feel. Both these songs are incredibly beautiful and cathartic, releasing all the tension and angst that built up throughout the the album – giving it a magnificent conclusion.
It’s impossible to talk about everything this 75-minute album does without spoiling all the things that makes it so special. If you liked how chaotic the first album was in its style and topics, you will love this album. It takes everything from the first, and distills it into this near masterpiece.