The 1975 are officially back on the scene with a brand new album, and Nerve Online’s Music Entertainment Editor has an exclusive first look ahead of tomorrow’s release.
It’s been three years since Manchester formed alternative rock band The 1975 took the UK by storm with their debut self titled album, and since then they’ve grown by somewhat epic proportions. They’ve played some of the biggest festivals in this country and others further afield, and even played a gig at the acclaimed Royal Albert Hall in 2014. However, they can’t keep living off the success of one album, and so tomorrow (February 26th) sees the release of second album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. Way to keep the titles catchy eh guys?
For fans of the band that were hoping for more of the same catchy pop rock anthems such as Chocolate and Girls that we saw on the band’s debut album, I’m afraid there doesn’t seem to be much of that here. Aside from the already released singles Love Me, UGH! and The Sound, the majority of the album seems to lack the anthemic sound that came with the first album. This is hardly surprising though, as frontman Matt Healy has said on a number of occasions that the goal for this album was to take their sound in a completely different direction, something which they have most certainly achieved.
The album opens in the same way the previous one did, with a short opening track named The 1975. Sitting at 1:24 in duration, it’s the sort of track you can see playing at future gigs as the lights dim and the crowd scream in anticipation of the act they’re about to witness. This gig-fuelled energy is maintained through track two and first single from the album Love Me which features some insanely catchy vocals and groovy guitar riffs that had me swaying my hips from the first listen. But really, beyond this, there is little to be said by way of catchy pop hooks from this album. It is, quite simply, not a pop record. But what, then, is it?
Taken from The Guardian‘s review of the album, Matt Healy was quoted to have said: “I’m challenging people to sit through an hour and 15 minutes and 17 songs that all sound completely different from each other. It’s quite an emotional investment. It’s art … the world needs this album.” Now, aside from being incredibly narcissistic in his assumption that the world needs this album, what stands out about Healy’s statement and what does indeed ring true is this idea that all 17 tracks on this album sound completely different. He’s not wrong, and when you listen to their debut album and realise that almost every track does sound the same, it’s a welcome surprise. However, what you’re left with in I like it when you sleep… is seventeen tracks that don’t belong together. Rather than a unified album you have a whopping seventeen random pieces of music that don’t fit and shouldn’t really be on an album together. What Healy says about challenging people to sit through an hour and 15 minutes of music is problematic when that hour and 15 minutes doesn’t flow. In a world where you can create your own playlist at the click of a button on streaming sites such as Spotify, the era of listening to a single album from start to finish is all but dead, and in fact the albums that do well when listened to in one sitting are not the disjointed albums such as this one, but the albums that flow from one track to the next.
What Healy is right about, however, is his definition of this album as a piece of art. It isn’t easy listening at all and it isn’t something that you put on to dance around your bedroom to pretending you’re in a rock band, it’s an album that you should sit down and really invest some time into. The problem is that people don’t do that these days, and no doubt the high selling singles will be on everyone’s Spotify playlists and the somewhat beautiful instrumental tracks such as Please Be Naked and the title track I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it will be lost amongst the other album tracks that everyone forgets about. These are not bad tracks by any stretch of the imagination, in fact I find each track to be individually fascinating, but the concept of having them all on a single album together is too jarring and doesn’t make for a particularly pleasant listening experience.
Toward the end of the album, the songs become much more emotional and the final two tracks are acoustic pieces of pure excellence. Nana almost had me in tears listening to the emotionally charged vocals of Matt Healy singing about what appears to be his grandmother, and the fact that they chose to keep this song stripped back to its pure acoustic form makes it all the more vulnerable as a track. Closing track She Lays Down is another acoustic song that follows the musical stylings of musicians such as Frank Turner, and is honestly rather beautiful in it’s echoing soft vocals.
What seems to have happened to The 1975 in the case of this album, is they’ve tried a little too hard to break away from the pop rock band they became when they released their debut album. Whilst this album isn’t necessarily bad, it can certainly be said that it is not the same 1975 that we saw three years ago. This album is like The 1975‘s version of Oasis‘ Be Here Now or Arctic Monkeys‘ Humbug – its the album that will divide the fans. The album that isn’t necessarily their best, but is a marker for a change of direction and ultimately a piece of artwork that whilst not particularly easy to listen to, has a powerful resonance in it’s own unique way.
The 1975‘s new album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it is released on Friday 26th February.