Story by Nick Erickson, Staff writer
British alternative rock band The 1975 knows how to affect an audience on a large scale. Facing high expectations from their platinum-reaching debut record, the group’s newest effort is anything but a sophomore slump. Looking past the clunky, 16-word title, “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It,” one will find a 75-minute trip in a time machine back to the ’80s. Everything one would visualize: neon-drenched aesthetic, bombastic synth and guitar, groovy disco-esque bass lines, and bold lyricism. The 1975 proves that talented individuals can write mainstream-accessible music, all without losing any of their own charm in the process.
Charismatic frontman Matthew Healy unleashes his full vocal potential on this entire record without letting up. His lyrics can be tongue-in-cheek at times, leaving room for interpretation. Reminiscent of the timbre of the late David Bowie, Healy’s singing will send chills down the spines of listeners globally. One can feel the passion put forth into the conception of each verse and melody. However, this is not to say his other three bandmates do not equally shine.
Opening the record with a track sharing the name of the band, “The 1975” is a minute-and-a-half of atmospheric strings and subtle piano, followed subtly by a choir and the low register of Healy’s voice. It’s soothing, and a genius way to introduce listeners to the album.
Following shortly is “Love Me,” which is a cheeky nod toward today’s generation’s obsession with popularity. Healy sings of how society idolizes celebrities, and one can almost feel the edge in the well-constructed lyrics, “You’ve got a beautiful face but got nothing to say.”
Healy cries out, “You look famous, let’s be friends.” The main guitar line, courtesy of Adam Hann, brings to mind licks one would find in the Talking Heads catalog. It’s groovy, and packs enough punch and synth layers to please any fan of a fun, retro throwback.
The biggest thing that makes The 1975 stand out among other acts is their ability to write “feel-good” music that everyone can dance to, even when subject matter for the song would be deemed darker. This is proven by the track “UGH!” Healy touches upon his past struggles with cocaine addiction, but this song does not show a slight bit of self-pity, and Ross MacDonald’s bass groove is anything but dreary. Singing about personal struggles has never felt so uplifting.
Track 7, “Please Be Naked,” might sound like the start of a sexual number, but it is far from it. Driven by a light piano start, this hauntingly-beautiful instrumental track shows an even softer side to the band.
Arguably the most upbeat on the record, “The Sound,” features a piercing synth line and the signature, make-you-nod-your-head drums of George Daniel. Healy’s way with words shines here more than ever, as he confesses he is happy about the end of a sour relationship with a girl who didn’t understand his ways.
Closing with an unexpected acoustic track, “She Lays Down,” Healy draws a tear on the listener’s face as he sings of his mother’s depression over soft guitar arpeggios. It’s a beautiful ending to a gargantuan 17-track album.
The next big band is here, and they’re showing no signs of slowing. “I Like It When You Sleep…” is as hyperactive and flamboyant as they present themselves onstage, without ever overdoing the act. With its ’80s influences, satisfying instrumentation and ever-emotional lyrics, it’s clear to see that The 1975 is becoming more than just another arena band. Meet The Cure of the 21st century.