The 1975

I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

Written by: TL on 17/03/2016 15:17:43

Having killed off their strictly monochrome aesthetic following their two-year comet-like rise to fame, Manchester's The 1975 has eventually come back, now in white and neon pink wrappings, following 2013's brilliant self-titled with the new and elaborately named "I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it", which came out in late February but only found its way to Danish Spotify a bit later.

Admittedly, calling the band indie-rock only partly covered the whole truth on "The 1975" - which certainly gained the band a fanbase more fitting of a boyband - yet considering that the debut was one of the most exciting albums in any genre in its year, it seemed worthy of a review regardless. Yet things have not gotten easier to label on "Like It When You Sleep": What's heavily effect-moderated guitar and what's synth is hard to make out by ear, and a lot of the time we're mainly in funky synth-pop land, with similarities to 80s hits of artists like Prince or Huey Lewis, while a track like "Please Be Naked" is mainly ambient and another like "Lostmyhead" finds reverberating guitar careening into orchestral instrumentation in a bit of post-rock-ishness.

There's made room for getting around like that, on an album of an ambitious one hour and seven minutes of run time, yet after an otherwise highly dramatic and atmospheric intro track, the album actually settles for delivering the most straight-forward pop songs in straight succession. Of the four, the first, "Love Me", is arguably the most instantly memorable, via its repetitive, prickly funk guitars, which form the backdrop for singer Matthew Healy to throw his vocals around quite a bit. Be warned, though, it's the kind of thing that sounds grating at first, yet the next thing you know, you're grooving to it.

After the first five tracks, change is instigated with the most euphonious track on offer, the stripped down, slow-burning ballad "If I Believe It", where particularly the well-timed application of gospel choir helps make it feel like something you can just completely sink into. Then, however, comes ten whole minutes of 'not-sure-if-song-or-interlude', with the mentioned "Please Be Naked" and "Lostmyhead". Both sound positively enchanting, but they feel more like something from a cinematic soundtrack or from a post-rock album, than something from a pop- or rock album, and they sit somewhat provocatively here together, breaking the album up for so long.

Things like that feel like The 1975's own little artistic rebellion against their own status as chart-toppers and pop sensations. And listening to their lyrical shenanigans and overall attention to detail, you get that they're a band intent on actually making pop music for thinking people. Yet, truth be told, when push comes to shove, "Like It When You Sleep" does not manage to awaken an interest for that side of them, as well as the predecessor "The 1975". The difference partly being in the distance and laid back playfulness of Healy's delivery, as he winds his notes around words that most of the teenage fans likely didn't know existed, and references they will never grasp the significance of. It's all well and good, but "The 1975" had angst as well as awareness. The Healy of then sang of sex and drugs like he knew when what he sang of was fucked up, yet like he was still right there in it at the same time, feeling the exhilarations and depressions of it. Here he sounds like the sly commentator, confessing perhaps, but only with his ironic distance intact.

This makes it harder for songs to emerge to the listener with that appearance of striking, seductive and believable narratives the way they did on that first record, and this is further catalysed by the album's lavish length and obstinate sequencing. Despite having more straight-forward tunes after the bump - the festive "The Sound" standing out for one - you never get that sense of 'one home run after the other' that "The 1975" gave you. Listening to this album becomes more challenging and fragmented, likely leading to it gaining a status as one you remember with fondness for its overall playful and uniquely detailed style, yet one you revisit and inevitably get reminded that it's a bit messy and things don't really come together quite as well as you want them to.

Download: If I Believe It, Love Me, The Sound, Somebody Else
For The Fans Of: Walk The Moon, Haim, Vampire Weekend, Lydia

Release date 26.02.2016
Dirty Hit / Polydor / Universal

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