Though not a perfect record, The 1975's sophomore album exhibits their unique musical signature with style.
Following their acclaimed self-titled debut in 2013, Manchester alt-rock band The 1975 have returned with their highly anticipated second album, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It.
Before its release, frontman Matt Healy described the group’s new album as a record about “bold decisions, conviction and not having any fear.” And indeed, upon listening to the 17 tracks that make up I Like It When You Sleep, there is definitely a sense of unrelenting boldness to the record’s structure, as well as the peculiar content of some of its songs. Whether or not this bold direction has entirely paid off however, is questionable.
There can be no doubt that there are some very noteworthy songs on the album, but you’ve probably heard most of them before, as it strikes me that the four previously released singles stand head and shoulders above the rest of the tracklist. The album’s first single, ‘Love Me’ exhibits a gloriously funky bassline that along with its rock-heavy chorus is infectiously catchy. Meanwhile, the second official single, entitled ‘UGH!’ happens to be a personal favourite of mine, as it extends the funk-ridden groove that ‘Love Me’ so elaborately conveys, but in a slightly more mellow, easy-going fashion. On a record where extremes are often tested for the sake of artistry and experimentation, ‘UGH!’ is probably one of the album’s more accessible songs.
The album’s most recent singles – ‘The Sound’ and ‘Somebody Else’ – also stand in good stead amongst the tracklist. ‘The Sound’ proves to be a richly enjoyable track, that is reminiscent of classic dance anthems, but still retaining that distinct 1975 style. Meanwhile, ‘Somebody Else’ is perhaps the band’s most hypnotically enchanting song since 2014’s ‘Medicine’. Though somewhat repetitive in places, the luxurious combination of Healy’s soft-spoken vocals, wavering background humming and seductive bass notes, produces an infinitely pleasant sound.
The record’s fourth track, ‘A Change of Heart’ is also fairly enjoyable to listen to – even if its crudely surreal lyrics (“You said I’m full of diseases, your eyes were full of regret // and then you took a picture of your salad and put it on the internet.”) seem strange against the song’s gorgeously dulcet instrumentation. The record as a whole seems to take inspiration from various decades of the past; While ‘UGH!’ contains a kind of ’90s vibe, other tracks such as ‘She’s So American’ and ‘This Must Be My Dream’ have an inherently ’80’s feel. ‘She’s So American’ for instance, contains the kind of fast-paced guitar picking and tumbling synth sounds that are synonymous with the 80’s, while ‘This Must Be My Dream’ is a bit more Sting and The Police-y; drum-heavy, with an almost gospel-like chorus.
However, some of the record’s tracks, which weave between the commercial favourites, feel somewhat alien and out of place. The sixth track, ‘If I Believe In You’ feels a bit heavy-handed and poly-rhythmic, with its harsh, screeching gospel choruses. Meanwhile, ‘The Ballad of Me and My Brain’ sounds similarly experimental – full of conflicting sounds and overly shouty vocals. It’s probably supposed to be artistic and reminiscent of a distorted mind – but it doesn’t necessarily sound as good as other tracks.
The record’s instrumental interval tracks are also somewhat frustrating. The sixth track, ‘Please Be Naked’ is like four and a half minutes of watching the DVD menu of some sort of generic rom-com run over and over again because you still haven’t clicked play. The short, opening self-referential track at the beginning of the record also seems a bit weird, as it ominously barks random lyrics before somewhat randomly fading into ‘Love Me.’
Other tracks on the album like ‘Loving Someone’, ‘lostmyhead’ and the title song, ‘I Like It When You Sleep’ are alright, but seem somewhat mediocre in comparison to some of the better tracks and suffer slightly from over-repetition. Meanwhile, the last three tracks of the album – ‘Paris’, ‘Nana’ and ‘She Lays Down’ – enter a far gentler vibe, with the latter track moving away from the record’s otherwise electronic sound, and instead going into a wistfully acoustic direction.
Overall, I Like It When You Sleep is a pleasantly eclectic collection of songs, which are decidedly hit or miss. Luckily, there are slightly more hits than misses, and even though there’s clear evidence of experimentation, the record still maintains The 1975’s signature feel for strangely poetic melodies.
I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet Unaware Of It is out now via Dirty Hit and Interscope.