Photo by Sophie Cettina
The 1975’s much-anticipated new record, “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It,” came out on February 26. I grabbed a copy as soon as possible, and thanks to my amazing boss at the record store I work in back home, I even got a signed booklet from the band! (See at the bottom of the post.)
Last summer, The 1975 tweeted a few mysterious, cryptic comic book strips that stirred up controversy. The band seemed to be hinting at an ending of some sort, perhaps even the band’s end. After a few weeks, though, Matty (lead singer) revealed that the band was not breaking up, but instead, redefining their musical style & visual aesthetic. (Concert photos taken by me.)
Before this new record, the band avoided pop-like songs, overlystylized music videos and cheerful themes in their music. Additionally, the band members wore black clothing on stage and tended to post all their photos on social media with an added black and white filter. On the new album, though, each song features a hint of pop, even blues, and numerous other musical styles.
In addition to their new musical style, the band’s stage setup has changed. From dark, gloomy lighting to vibrant pinks, blues, and greens, complete with multi-colored neon rectangles to represent the band’s original trademark, their overall style has completely changed to imitate an 80s-90s aesthetic.
Photo by Sophie Cettina
To be honest, I was skeptical about the news regarding the band’s dramatic change. One of the reasons I love The 1975 is because they are unlike any other band in the music industry today–their lyrics are brilliant, and they certainly don’t look like any other bands to which I listen. Luckily, though, Matty and the boys didn’t disappoint with their new record–their new style is refreshing and still just as good (if not better) than their previous album. Here is my individual review of each track.
1. The 1975: The track begins with an slow increase in volume through a flurry of synthesizer and space-like sounds. The song comes to a sudden stop, and then Matty enters, accompanied by a choir. This first song is also the first track on their debut album, and I love the idea of using this song as the opening to their sophomore album, as well. My favorite lines are: “Soft sound. Midnight. Car lights. Playing with the air. Breathing in your hair.” Through headphones, it sounds as if the song itself is drawing closer and closer in its beginning, about to burst your eardrums, until the soft pause in anticipation of Matty and the choir. It’s a perfect introduction to the overall record as it ushers into the wild guitar riffs of “Love Me.”
2. Love Me: With stunning guitar solos and fiery synthesizers, this song really strays from the band’s previous style. The guys released this track as a single a few months ago, and eventually paired it with a ground-breaking, style-defining video in which Matty is seen wearing heavy makeup (including lipstick and eye shadow) on an 80s themed, purple-and blue-light-bathed set. Throughout the video, Matty drinks sloppily out of a wine bottle (nothing new here) and proceeds to make out and dance with various celebrity cut-outs. I love the song. At first, I was unsure about it…especially considering the atypical intro. But the song eventually grew on me. By far, my favorite line in the song is: “You look famous, let’s be friends and portray we possess something important…and do the things we like, meaning we’ve just come to represent a decline in the standards are what we accept! Yeah, yeah, Yeah…no.” Matty never ceases to impress me with his witty songwriting as he subtly (or sometimes not so subtly) critiques social issues.
3. UGH! I’m obsessed with the intro to this song. The bass and guitar, mixed with Matty’s voice is absolutely perfect. It has an 80s-90s feel to it, which is such a fresh sound right now. The song title is also pretty quirky. Matty doesn’t say “ugh” at any point in the song, but it makes so much sense as the title. The song seems to be about a relationship that has ended, yet Matty can’t help falling in love with the girl a second time–hence the lyric: “and you’re the only thing that’s going on in my mind…taking over my life a second time. I don’t have the capacity for fucking…You’re meant to be helping me.” The word “ugh” pretty much sums up this situation–the phrase could really have either a positive or negative connotation, and it’s up to the listener to define which. “UGH!” is short and sweet, gracing your headphones for a duration of only three minutes.
4. A Change of Heart: This echoey ballad always makes me visualize the color purple, for some odd reason. A deep, rich purple. Through out the song, there are many references to The 1975’s previous record, and they even seem to continue the story of “Robbers,” my favorite track off their first album. The song surveys the story of a man who loves woman so much that he can barely function without her, even if the relationship is seemingly toxic. As a “A Change Of Heart” progresses, however, Matty does just that…he realizes that doesn’t love the girl anymore…and for no particular reason, really. “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine, now you just look like anyone.” (In contrast to the lyrics of “Robbers:” “She had a face straight outta magazine. God only knows but you’ll never leave her.”) This song really depicts a modern relationship–there is no sugar-coating, and it’s all very realistic.
5. She’s American: This track starts off calm and dreamy, and then immediately leads in with intense drums, guitars, and synthesizers. Out of all the tracks on the new record, this one sounds the most like the band’s previous, classic style. The guitar in this song is truly the best addition, fading in and out with the song to emphasize each lyric. My favorite lines in the song are: “She’s inducing sleep to avoid pain,”and “Don’t fall in love with the moment, and think you’re in love with the girl.” The song seems to follow the band’s relationship with their fans, especially since American girls adore Matty, a man from Manchester. The lyrics, “If she likes it ’cause we just don’t eat, and we’re so intelligent, she’s American. If she says I’ve got to fix my teeth, then she’s so American. And if she likes it ’cause we just don’t eat, and we’re socially relevant, she’s American,” seems to point out the stereotypes often associated with British and American people–Americans tend to eat larger amounts, and English people are sometimes viewed to be seemingly more “intelligent” due to their accents. Additionally, Matty emphasizes that the British are “socially relevant” right now, with so many girls falling in love British boy bands. (Very relatable to me!)
6. If I Believe You: This track is the most notable on the album. The 1975 have completely outdone themselves with this song–with an amazing backup choir that belts out tight, sharp choruses to emphasize particular lines, the track is heavily influenced by gospel music. Lyrically, the song is fascinating as well. It seems to represent Matty’s inner monologue surrounding his opinions and beliefs on religion. Matty sings: “And if I believe you…will that make it stop? If I told you I need you…is that what you want? And I’m broken and bleeding. And begging for help. And I’m asking you Jesus, show yourself.” In the song, he expresses his struggle to find God (or some sort of higher power) in order to stop the pain going through his mind. He wonders if admitting to God that he needs Him is the key to receiving His help. The song really marks a new style for the band…it features a trumpet, which is the last thing you’d expect to hear on a 1975 record.
7. Please Be Naked: This is another one of The 1975’s dreamy, lengthy songs in which they manage to convey emotion and ideas mostly through noise and various instruments. It is entirely instrumental, and seems to rise in sound and intensity as the song progresses as if depicting the image of passion and love. The piano on this track is beautiful–the intro to the song which features a swirl of soft keys is breathtaking. Eventually, the keys lead into a sort of spacey, bell-like chorus.
8. Lostmyhead: Matty writes quite a few songs about the inner workings of his brain, as well as instances where he’s felt he’s “lost his head.” This is a common theme in The 1975’s music–Matty always seems to be trying to find himself, his purpose, or his “brain” through music. “Lostmyhead” is probably my least favorite song on the record, though. It’s a bit of sensory overload. There is a lot of static and loud blares on the track, which is probably meant to predict and portray the sounds of the inner ramblings of someone’s (perhaps Matty’s) brain.
9. The Ballad Of Me and My Brain: This track is truly a lovely mix of the old and new 1975. The song begins with the oohs and ahhs of the choir, and leads into Matty screaming at the top of his lungs about going mad. This track follows the continued theme of Matty losing his brain, but in this song, his brain is personified: “And what a shame you’ve lost a brain that you never had. Oh mum check the car, it can’t have gone far. I must have left it on a train or lost in a bar. It’s likely in a Sainsbury’s, flirting with the girls and waiting for me. I jumped on a bus, declared my name, and asked if anybody’s seen my brain.” The song seems to suggest Matty’s loss of control over his brain and his actions as his band continues to grow in popularity. This song is really well written, and Matty’s emotion, frustration, and sense of deliriousness really comes through.
10. Somebody Else: This is one of those songs that really tugs at your heartstrings. It’s about painful feelings and thoughts after going through a breakup: you don’t want the person anymore, but it kills you to see them with someone else once they’ve moved on. This is an extremely emotional ballad, which features great electric keyboard, guitar, and synthesizer. The majority of the track is somber, slow and melancholy, but eventually ends in Matty singing angrily: “Get someone you love? Get someone you need? Fuck that, get money. I can’t give you my soul cause we’re never alone!” The repetitive line that is interwoven through out the entire track, “I don’t want your body…but I hate to think about you with somebody else,” is so simple yet so powerful.
11. Loving Someone: This is one track on the album that disappointed me a bit–it’s too electric-pop for my taste. Although I may not love the song, the spoken word which is featured in the middle of the track is brilliantly written, and truly thought-provoking: “She blazed about how cultural language is an operation system. A simple interface rendered feeble and listless. When tested with a divinity or a true understanding of the human condition I never did understand – the duality of art and reality – living life and treating it as such but with a certain disconnect.” It’s definitely worth your time to stop and listen to this one for it’s spoken word addition.
12. I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It: In a recent interview, Matty explained that this phrase was something he whispered to an ex-girlfriend one morning. He thought it was an interesting concept, so he wrote it down, then used it as a song title. He explained that the phrase makes him feel a little uneasy, which he believes is a good thing, explains why he decided to make it the name of the overall record. You can’t always be 100% sure about everything when it comes to writing music. This song is another completely instrumental track on the record, and definitely imitates sleep, dreaming, and love with its ambient noises and instruments. The ending of this song is heartbreakingly beautiful. Matty sings: “Before you go, (please don’t go) turn the big light off.”
13. The Sound: Initially released as a single before the band’s album release, this song is a declaration of the band’s separation from their previous style. In a recent BBC 1 interview, Matty said: “It wears its pop on its sleeve and it’s kind of unabashed. There hasn’t been a vehicle yet for us to do that. This album is perfect [for the song] because it’s juxtaposed with everything the album is.” This song includes a killer guitar solo from lead guitarist Adam Hann, and and intro that builds up into a burst of piano, quick guitar, drums, and Matty’s brilliant voice. My favorite line is: “It’s not about reciprocation, it’s just all about me: a sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe. There’s so much skin to see…a simple Epicurean philosophy. And you say I’m such a cliché. I can’t see the difference in it either way.”
14. This Must Be My Dream: I love the guitar in this track, as well as the strong chorus that brings the choir back in. The song seems to illustrate a relationship that is too good to be true–it must be a dream. As the song progresses, it becomes clear that it is, in fact, too good to be true. Matty sings: “Pipe down, you’re no lover. It’s failing cos’ you want it to. Well, I thought it was love but I guess I must be dreaming ’bout feeling something instead of you.” I was so excited to find that this song features The 1975’s brilliantly talented saxophone player, John Waugh, whom I met in April 2014.
15. Paris: It took Matty about a year to write this song, which is fascinating to me, since it’s not a song about complex breakup or relationship, but rather about a city with which he’s fallen in love. And no, it was not written during the time of the attacks on Paris. Matty wrote this song because of his adoration for Paris, and in a recent interview he said: “I’m writing about a city I love, and that’s what I’m going to remember, I won’t let Paris be defined by that (the attacks).”
The song is a dreamy ballad with echoing choruses, and repetitive guitar riffs that flow through the entire song. The track seems to follow the story of a girl who is abusing drugs: “you’re a walking overdose in a great coat…” The song truly tells a story, and there are a few incredible lines that made me actually stop to Google a few of the words used. For example, Matty sings: “There was a party that you had to miss because your friend kept cutting her wrists. Hyper-politicized sexual trysts. ‘Oh, I think my boyfriend’s a nihilist.’ I said ‘Hey kids we’re all just the same…what a shame.'” Thanks to the Internet, I discovered that “nihilists” believe that all values are baseless, and nothing in the world can truly be known. Nihilism is often associated with extreme pessimism. It is fascinating to me that Matty embedded this word in the story of the song…perhaps he is struggling with a bit of nihilism himself–pessimistic views commonly come through his music. Next to “If I Believe You,” this is one of my absolute favorites off the record.
16. Nana: This is the most heart-wrenching track on the record. Matty was extremely close to his Nana, (Annie) and still struggles in coping with her death, which is why he wrote this song. The track is simple, but conveys so much emotion. Matty doesn’t dance around the concept of death in his music–he flat out acknowledges it, as painful as it may be. After all, death is unapologetic in itself. In “Nana,” he sings: “Oh sleepless nights, a grown up man dressed in white, who I thought might just save your life…but he couldn’t, so you died.” In the very last few lines of the song in which Matty sings: “But I’m bereft you see. I think you can tell…I haven’t been doing too well,” the singer’s voice cracks with emotion, as if on the brink of tears. This song is so moving, touching, and in the end, simply gut-wrenching.
17. She Lays Down: This track is entirely acoustic, complete with chatterings from the band before/after the song finishes. The song is intriguing; it seems to highlight the story of a young woman who so desperately wants to love a man…but just can’t bring herself to. He’s everything she wants, but she simply doesn’t love him in the same way he loves her. Just like most typical 1975 songs, the track touches on the negative effects of drugs and the part they play in relationships. This track is completely stripped, exclusively featuring acoustic guitar and Matty’s raw singing voice. (Update 1/13/17: Matty has disclosed that this song is about his mother and her struggle to raise him.)
Thanks for reading this far. Hope you enjoyed my review! Please feel free to tweet me your thoughts and opinions on the record as well. 🙂