Its no secret that I totally, utterly, wholeheartedly adore this band and am therefore in a very weak position to give an objective review on their new work. So I thought rather than tell you which songs I love, as I will inevitably love them all, I would write my first rambling, nonsensical impressions of these songs as I listen, track by track. So here we go.... (It's 4am and I've just come back from a night out. I'm quite pissed. Music feels nice.)
- The 1975
Of course they've self titled the first track. Why wouldn't they? We all know these boys grew a pair a long time ago and couldn't give a shit if we think they're arrogant.
Its an homage to the previous album, a collision of all the recognisable pushes and licks and phrases we know and love. Straight away Matty's lyrics conjure up the delicate image of "playing with the air, breathing in your hair", subverting the words to weave a more complex feeling. It feels familiar and comfortable and its a clever way to usher in the new sounds that follow.
Here follows the brilliant 'Love Me' and 'UGH!' which have both been on repeat for the past few weeks so its pretty pointless describing these in any detail as you've probably already heard every inch of them. If you haven't then you need to crawl out from under your rock.
4. A Change of Heart
This still feels familiar, although perhaps my initiation to the new sound has already begun through the release of the three tracks prior to the full album. It makes me think of the head to toe black-clad Matty pulling on a pink fluffy jumper and it's weird but it works (I'm definitely pissed.)
I might not listen to this obsessively but I like the observational lyrics and wonder who they might be about (Halsey?!). The self reference is immediately evident, as Matty answers the questions he posed back in album 1. Things haven't gone exactly as he thought they might. Jaded? Perhaps. Mature? Possibly. Either way it's obvious Matty hasn't tired of singing about himself being a bit of a knob at times. It seems to be his way of demonstrating an acute self-awareness whilst consciously acknowledging his own notoriety. He's a pure gold frontman.
5. She's American
Is this new? I've heard this before? It's ok but this is now overly familiar and the use of the female pronoun gets a tad tiresome. Please stop saying 'City'. There are strong melodical similarities to 'The Sound'. (On second listen it grows on me - no surprise there.)
6. If I Believe You
Phew! This feels good again. LOVE the RnB style, nice baseline boys. What better way to sing about a lack of faith than alongside a Gospel choir. "If I believe you, will that make it stop? If I told you I need you, is that what you want." I feel this, and it's a subject that I think a lot of our generation struggle with - trying to reconcile the systems of belief within which we were raised with the world we see and know around us. I'm sure there are layers of meaning to this song that may reveal themselves with time, but I'm impressed on first listen with the questions it provokes.
*** Disclaimer - I fell asleep after the first six tracks and am now listening the following morning with a mild headache. Scientifically reliable this review is most certainly not. No points for continuity.***
7. Please Be Naked
Great title. Piano starts - Oh shit I might cry. There are no lyrics?! Why not?! Owh. Please sing something this has so many feels.
Please be epic please be epic please... eugh this is all build up and no climax. I'm frustrated. It's pretty and moving but I want more. Is that too much to ask? Oooh that's a bit better but it's more of an apologetic back rub than a musical explosion.
9. The Ballad of Me and My Brain
The intro reminds me of 'Little April Showers' from Bambi. That's a good thing. And FINALLY Matty screams and I'm back in the room and I'm listening to what you have to say. Sorry did I just hear you sing Sainsburys? I love it. This is madness - "Where would I be if I was my brain?"
10. Somebody Else
This is such a beautiful song. Yes I've already heard it but what a song. What a sad song."Your love has gone cold you're intertwining your soul with somebody else" = Heartache.
11. Loving Someone
My brain has got a bit hazy and there's no immediate reaction from my mind on this track. It's quite mesmerising and it flowers slowly. Meh.
12. I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
This appears to be another instrumental, which is all well and good but I want to sing along. I want to throw my hands in the air and feel that rush of adrenaline when a great chorus hits you and you know exactly what it's all about. Oh, hang on there's a few lyrics, and wow this song is reaaaalllly long. Now it's morphed into another instrumental. I might actually press forward... Does this make me a musical ignoramus? Perhaps this would sound better if you were as high as he probably is. The up-tempo section at the end sounds like the start of something great but in the context of this track it's verging on the pretentious.
13. The Sound.
Awesome - no words needed. TURN IT UP.
14. This Must Be My Dream
The first five seconds are VERY promising. Yes yes yes! The drums are excellent, to the point of being a hook in themselves. Nice work George. Quick everyone, get in the nearest soft top car with the volume loud, roof down, wind in your hair, arms in the air.
There it is again... that female pronoun at the centre of the song. The chorus has a nicely kitsch feel, Matty's got his pink fluffy jumper back on again for this one. I'm imagining 90's school kids slow dancing in village halls.
Acoustic guitar will always draw me in and it's lovely to hear Matty's voice against an emptier backing track. It's very honest and simplistic at times but that's not a negative. It's moving but I don't think it will make me cry.
17. She Lays Down
Back to back acoustic tracks? It's an unconventional end to an album but we should know better than to expect anything conventional from these guys. Again, this is nice but its not 'Me' or 'Robbers' or 'Woman', and I can't pretend I'm not slightly disappointed.
In all honesty I'm surprised I don't totally love this. I will listen again without a doubt, because I want to persevere with some of the more complex tracks. Being the superfan I am I'm sure I will force feed myself into loving this, but it certainly isn't as immediately infectious as the first album. By no means is this a failure; the body of work makes sense as a whole and the shift in sound is to be expected and commended. The singles are in there and I respect that the band have clearly made no sacrifices in creating this delightfully odd second album, but I'd have just loved one or two more tug-at-the-heartstrings tracks and one or two less instrumental soundscapes.
What's also become clear during the process of writing this is that I'm a musical magpie - I like the shinier things on an album. For this I can't apologise because I find nothing more tiresome than intellectual posturing over tracks that might be genius to the trained ear but for the average listener reveal nothing. Feel free to give me clever, canny pop music... just let me dance and jump and cry to the hooks as well.
On first listen: 7/10