When I first came across The 1975, muttering their name under my breath was enough to turn my stomach. Their music didn’t leave the sourest impression, but their minimalist emo take was enough to make me squirm. Since then, however, the black henley, chelsea boot wearing, cigarette smoking trademark is long gone. While they broke out with defining qualities in later works, this fifth installment provides the most well-versed view of pop-rock. In this feat, Matty and the group prove how heartfelt strings juxtaposed to their urban roots prove a positive endeavor.
The opening track, “The 1975,” insinuates a new aura for how to introduce their music. Conventional fans will point out how it plays as a sensible production carried by chorus and outro. Healy’s voice follows gamey piano chimes talking about how things will get better if you follow his vibe and that he’s, “Sorry if you’re living and you’re only seventeen.” Visiting socially stemmed topics from popular culture with these verses shows where they stand as a group. Their working framework is characterized by the same green progressiveness they coined in ILIWYSFYASBYSUOI. These factors would squander the band’s re-emergence, if not for the dreamy sax outro and electric chords that re-introduce that blissful synth.
The bliss is carried into “Happiness.” This anthem was in the media before album release, yet its prominence has been tightly backed by the song’s catchy qualities. There’s no simpler way to describe how amazing this song plays. “My my my oh my my my,” I wished this bridge would reciprocate through-out; fortunately, leaving it out opens room for their newly established personality. The 1975 flourishes deeply into the chorus, it’s difficult to disregard their attention to detail. The happiness doesn’t end there. “Looking For Somebody To Love” combines shoe-gaze melody with the classic rock soul. This track plays very one-way, but its euphoric dance notes provide an eloquent nod to Rick Astley’s chants.
“Part of the Band,” or the sequel to the outback of the American South in “Roadkill,” allows Healy to reminisce on aged love and pop culture. This track took a while to grow on me, but the happy chords and melody can’t suppress even the meanest frown. Unfortunately, the track’s pop-culture tackiness overwhelms its contemporary pop nuance. Matty’s literature and country instrumentation don’t mesh well, which even as a casual listen, sticks out forcefully. Because of how preposterous some of the verses are, with lyrics like “Heroin cringes” and “Busting in her hand” (regardless of the context), the act can’t garner a sense of respectful and eloquent poetry. It seems they’d rather pursue the edginess of a singular sound than give in to what made those American sounds good to begin with.
“Oh Caroline / I wanna get it right this time, ‘cause you’re always on my mind.” These are the words that encapsulate the album’s truth. The longing for a tightrope between significance is the bow on top of this production. The endearment of a romance novel soaks the listener in the melodies of throw-back Wham! The piano keys are very prominent and rich. The way Healy pleads within the chorus augments the spectacle of their art performance. This sensual journey is once again inviting the classic 1975 saxophone progressiveness that was introduced in previous releases.
“I’m In Love With You.” This dance bop plays swiftly in the middle of the record. This tune accumulates the band’s tribute to the horn + kick-drum melody. It’s filled with excitement, and makes you want to jump and wave your arms at it. This tune goes down as the group’s proof of being a live performing band, and showing new audiences why they’re worth attending. I never understood their obsession with creating a self-reflexive universe around their productions. “All I Need To Hear” is a nod to the behavior outside the studio and in the universe of The 1975. Creating these narratives is an over-played quality that isn’t salvaged by carefully orchestrated music videos, like the one for “I’m In Love With You.” “George, do the hi-hats now,” is heard within the ballad by its jarring static that is noticeably clipped to fit the raw style of production. Given these forceful extents, the song is good. The sensual lyrics and piano keys toggle the heart in a loveable fashion.
“Wintering” is imaginative and majestically played. It leans on nothing, by standing on its identity of what it is: folk-rock. Although it’s a quick one-off, the group’s integrity offers all one needs to have a good time. “Human Too” takes it back to those initial notes of church choir that A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships brought to the table. Healy sounds so restless when they count the words, “I’m sorry I’m human too.” The band plays with a triangle, shaker, and the synthetical drum beat to offer an ostensibly human song, disguised as a break-up song.
By this point in the album, the group’s true synthesis in evolution had yet to be presented. “About You” is the focal point of this new release. Listeners don’t experience Being Funny until this track. Its moody reverbs orchestrate Healy’s soft continuation of the typical “Robbers” sound they broke into the mainstream with. This new variation of sound is grounded in that familiar blackness of romantic disparity.
The closer, “When We Are Together,” opens with a kiss. “You ask about the cows wearing my sweater / It’s something about the weather that makes them lie down.” Music historians must acknowledge the tribute to London outback embellished with western country solitude. This song isn’t about sadness, but utilizing nostalgia as the synthesis makes it so. Healy and the group are fruitful to past loves, and they’re not afraid to come into a new era with the weight of what could’ve been.
The 1975 are still as enigmatic as ever, but this new feat is their catchiest and most concise sound yet. Their acoustics toggle at the American soul in exciting ways. If the band wasn’t heavy-handed with personal contexts of popular culture, broader audiences would appreciate their symphonic presence in contemporary music.