Tag Archives: Ugh

The 1975 ‘I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’ – Review

5 Mar

The 1975’s second album is called ‘I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of it.’ There are seventeen tracks. One of those tracks is a six minute ambient instrumental called ‘Please Be Naked’. Another is named ‘The 1975’ and is itself a new arrangement of a track called ‘The 1975’, which was the opening song on their debut, ‘The 1975’. The target audience for the album is 14 year old girls. Lead singer Matty Healy said in a recent interview ‘it’s art. The world needs this album’. If any of these facts make you feel queezy then you have two options. You could stop reading now and try to avoid the band at all costs. Or you could embrace that queezines. Try and listen without prejudice (as one of the band’s influences, George Michael once said). Try and listen as a hormonal, uninhibited teenage girl might listen. Learn to love The 1975, because on this evidence, they’re going to be massive.

‘Love Me!’ That’s the imperative, and the hook, placed right at the front of this gigantic slab of pop and the band do everything in their power to convince you that you should. It’s an album that lures you in with juicy choruses, primary coloured chords and bags of personality. Once it’s got you hooked it starts to flex its muscles. Over the course of 75 minutes you’ll hear flashes of Arena Rock, House, Shoegaze, Post Rock, Ambient Music, R&B, Acoustic Balladry and Gospel. All of it is rendered through The 1975’s baby pink pop lens that amplifies the hooks and emphasises melody. The broad strokes are emphatic but the finer details are equally well executed. The production is glistening and detailed. Evocative retro sounds rub against elements of contemporary bass and electronic music which shows The 1975 keep one eye on the past and one on the present. It looks to the 80s for inspiration but They are a thoroughly modern band in their outlook – or ‘post-ironic’ as they put it. They don’t have the hang ups and cynicism that used to blight rock fans for too long (judging by one or two sour reviews, some critics don’t seem to have moved on); they will use the Careless Whisper sax on ‘This Could Be My Dream’ with smiles on their faces, just see if they don’t.

They make unbelievably provocative decisions like calling their album’I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of it.’ They’re trolling the haters. One song on the album is called ‘Ughhh!!’ And it’s about Matty’s own exasperation with his drug habit. Like most of the lyrics on the album it aims at profundity but ends up revealing a certain self obsession. It’s this pretentious element that has raised the eyebrows of A LOT of people, especially as Matty falls flat on his face just as often as he hits the mark. But you appreciate the effort to say something meaningful even when it doesn’t work out. That ambition results in one liners that are as sharp and witty as anything coming out of the rarified corridors of indie rock or experimental music. And when they fall short they do so with humour. ‘Was it your breasts from the start? They played a part’ is just one gloriously ridiculous example. They just don’t care about how daft they sound and that’s admirable because so much modern music lacks risk. Bands are scared to say anything out of the ordinary but The 1975 are never afraid to dip their toes in uncharted water.

Matty Healy frequently comes out with smart Alec remarks dripping with self-importance, as if he’s the first person to make the connection between personal decay and cocaine or realise that celebrities are prone to being vacuous. But his tone Is never didactic or pandering. He treats his young audience with respect and understands that they will come to their own conclusions. He sings frankly about drug use, mental health issues, death, religion, fame and love – the big subjects – and never offers easy answers. He does this with tremendous tenacity and a tongue always near his cheek. He’s utterly pretentious but damn, he knows it, and he worries about it. After name checking Guy Debord he exclaims ‘I’m the Greek economy of cashing intellectual cheques.’ As preening and smug as he can be, It’s hard to hate him when he comes out with self-deprecating put downs like that.

Some of the criticisms I’ve read, aside from often being utterly patronising and condescending to the group’s young audience, are awfully pedantic. I’ve seen criticisms that they’re too emo, that their songs are poorly structured, that the album’s too long (well duhhhh). Come on. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of emo, who cares how the songs are structured when the hooks hit this hard and hip hop albums, never mind mainstream pop albums, are routinely longer than this and nobody says a word. It’s as if the world has come to expect a group of four guys with guitars to play it safe. The 1975 are a throwback in some respects to groups at the start of the CD era, like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Smashing Pumpkins – bands full of ideas, with the ambition to match. How have THe 1975 answered their critics? In the video for the delicious house-pop number, ‘The Sound’, criticisms flash across a baby pink screen as the band play in a box to a hoard of sneering haters. By the end of the video it’s the critics who are in the box and the only thing they can do is point and scowl.

At at the end of the day I could talk about the unnecessary and overlong instrumentals, the considerably less enjoyable middle section and some of the many lyrical misfires – but that would be missing the point. These things speak to the band’s range and ambition. As is often the case, The 1975s flaws only make them more loveable.

Why aren’t this brilliant band being more regularly applauded? Critics have thus far been allergic to the 1975. They are a serious band making trivial pop music, which is an unfortunate category to fall in to if you’re seeking acclaim. If you’re a male band, play guitar music and have mainstream pop aspirations beyond just the indie/punk demographic then you’re in trouble. It’s the reason Coldplay and The Killers have never received their due – as if what the have achieved is easily attainable?! The lesson they want us to learn, it would seem, is that If you’re in a band you BETTER know you’re place. Leave pop to the pop stars and stick to being alternative. But we’re told guitar music is dead aren’t we? Here are a band with sky scraping tunes, ambition, real personality, good looks, style, a young fan base and bags of attitude. They are a young, talented group putting three minute pop songs on the radio, with guitar solos, and having hits! This is the best pop-rock album since ‘A.M’. My advice? Learn to stop worrying and love The 1975.