In 2013 The 1975 burst onto the alt/indie rock scene with their huge self titled debut album. It was an instant hit, largely due to their high-energy guitar riffs, intelligent lyrics and frontman Matt Healy’s tone, which is almost symbolic of anarchy and disillusionment. Their second release I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It has been tipped for huge success, but how does it measure up to their debut?
The first thing to say is that there is definitely a difference; rather than the bass-y riffs that brought them their initial success, there is much more utilisation of synthesisers, which doesn’t particularly suit Healy’s tone. The first single from the album, ‘Love Me’, whilst being very reminiscent of Bowie’s Fame, feels overworked rather than raw, overproduced rather than fresh and the synth is overbearing. However songs such as ‘She’s American’, ‘The Sound’ and ‘Somebody Else’ are a nod to their original sound and the return to the bass and guitar on these makes them almost anthemic.
Surprisingly, there are several more mellow tracks too, ‘If I Believe You’, ‘A Change of Heart’ and ‘Paris’ are examples of these – though the backing track of the latter almost resembles Taylor Swift, which is a further surprise from the hard-hitting Manchester four-piece. ‘A Change of Heart’ is definitely a stand-out track though and lyrically is very current too; “took a picture of your salad and put it on the internet”. There are several instrumental tracks though, which don’t really add much to the album, and for a release of this length – 17 tracks – they could have been more economical with these.
Overall, whilst The 1975 are lyrically at their best, compositionally at times this album seems disjointed and a bit messy. It works at a certain level, but the blend of softer tracks with the synth-y overtones is definitely a digression from their ‘sound’. There’s no doubt this will be a success, as they have managed to retain the alt/indie essence of their debut but the 80s synth-pop influence is at times overpowering.