eEarlier this year, 1975The most divisive British band on the scene, caused a slight wave of controversy as they announced their fifth album. The problem wasn’t Mati Healy’s Twitter scam – after leaving the app in 2020, he’s since returned without a blue tick, but with a resume that says “deleted once verified” – or the fact that they’ve given up on the self-production path of their previous work. In favor of pop music producer, Jacques Antonoff. The problem was the length of the log itself. News articles grouped together to show tweets from fans bemoaning the fact that being funny in 11 great foreign language tracks, 43 minute runtime is about half of what’s sprawling in 2020 Notes on the conditional form. She posted one tweet “It’s too short nooooo”.
It’s shocking because, so far, 1975 has been riddled with excess. From the titles of their albums (see 2016 Word Challenges the Count I like it when you sleep, because you are so beautiful but you are unaware of it) to Healy’s complex, contradictory lyrics and long interview quotes, everything that surrounds the band feels purposefully OTT. But excessive oftentimes is proportional to lack of focus. Keen to reflect modern listening habits, the last release of 1975 seldom stuck to one genre—notes on the conditional form swing between punk, house, garage, electronic pasta, likely the distant sound of a kitchen sink being mined for ropes—while Healy’s ability On communicating the intricacies of millennial life meant that his quick words often arrived in inverted commas, polished in so much sarcasm that they existed only as blanket catchphrases.
While the tech-shy, primarily guitar-based Funny in a Foreign Language, isn’t exactly 33-year-old Hailey, it does highlight a shift in purpose. In a recent interview, Healy admitted that after years of trying to capture it all, everywhere, at once, here he was happy to downsize: He paused, as he put it, on his search for the band’s greatest composition in favor of crafting a small piece. Polaroid scale. This punch-hole focus underpins the solo part of the ensemble, which eschews the festival’s headline bombshells in favor of its rustic simplicity. But, as with Polaroid, the details slowly make themselves known the more you pay attention. The campfire at the track, reminiscent of early Bon Iver, masks swirls of acoustic tailings; Studio chatter rises and falls, as do electronics bubbles and brassy burps, while momentum continually scatters like a wrecked car through the album artwork. Lyrically, Hailey is crammed into a variety of layers typically of high-wired neurosis and acute self-evaluation: “Do I wake up ironically? / My ass kidding? / Or am I just a post-Cook, mean, skinny person / I connect to his ego fantasy?” “
Poisonous and fragile, masculinity is explored throughout the album, usually via the blue glow of a phone screen. In part of the band, Hailey draws a caricatured snowflake that’s ‘full of soy milk’ and ‘so sweet’ [he] Won’t offend anyone,” while looking for someone (for love) that explores the psychology of a mass shooter, tapping into ideas about “feelings” and apathy.” Oh, they ran, you should have seen how they ran when I was looking for someone What I love is,” he sings as he runs, Springsteen-esque soft-rock vocals, slender backstage vocals and ’80s beats.” You gotta watch it man, you’re all bang! lively! lively! Bang! ”There are also many references to masturbation and ejaculation, and it’s either a sarcastic comment on the penis efficacy fallacy in 2022, or an easy way to get a cheap laugh. or both.
Fortunately, it’s not just about peeling your hard-earned lyric onions. I’m In Love With You is the band at their delightfully pompous, echoing the title in an increasingly husky voice. There’s a wonderful moment on the bridge as Hailey starts to think things through, where he is warned by a hilarious phrase “Don’t fuck her, dummies!” Meanwhile, Happiness recalls the chic, light-colored pop rock I love when you sleep…with earworm chorus and veiled despair (“Show me your love, why don’t you?”), adding to the band’s arsenal of festival anthems.
The album ends with two serious folk songs. About You, a delicate duet with Carly Holt, the wife of band guitarist Adam Hahn, finds Hailey desperately trying to remember the fading relationship on cascading guitars and increasingly flowing vocals, while the etched country music of when we’re together tends to meticulously write songs. Taylor Swift, Best Pop Storyteller. The beautifully picked change is disturbed only by Healy’s habit of reminding you of his fame, and of the broader culture war in which he often seems eager to insert himself. “It’s been handled so badly, the day we both got cancelled,” he sings softly, as your eyes roll skyward, “Because I’m a racist and you’re some kind of malice.”
This album wouldn’t be from 1975 if Holly hadn’t hampered himself. Fortunately, five albums were entered, and many of the obstacles that helped his descent were removed. Streamlined, focused on the heart rather than just the head, and filled with big, unimpressive pop moments – the prequel to Master Oh Caroline is pure Backstreet Boys – this is their first album in a very long time to play like fun rather than chore.