The 1975’s highly anticipated second album I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It is a hotbed of sonic experimentation and jarring contrasts. While their 2013 debut pulsated with teen angst and unabashed sex appeal, I Like It takes fans to a darker place. Unlike most modern pop records, the album stretches for 17 tracks, many of which exceed the standard three to four minute song length.
Frontman and vocalist Matt Healy has confessed that the album was an attempt to showcase all sides of the band, something that is made evident in the patchwork of pop-punk, indie-rock, electro soul and flecks of jazz.
I Like It opens with an echoing choir in The 1975 which is quickly swallowed by the electrifying guitar riff that kicks off Love Me. The first single off the album, it’s an ironic commentary on selfie culture and the 21st Century obsession with celebrities. “You look famous, let’s be friends!” exclaims Healy with false excitement. Powered by Bowie-esque guitar licks and funky beats, it’s a firecracker of a track.
UGH! demonstrates the boys penchant for contrast. Masked by polished pop beats, the lyrics tell a darker story of a cocaine comedown. While the content is somewhat macabre, the upbeat tempo and song title betrays Healy’s (very British) comical complacency.
If I Believe You is one of the more self-reflecting and revealing tracks on the album. As atheist Healy turns to a god he doesn’t believe (“If I believe you, will that make it stop?”), trumpets and a gospel choir swell to give his plea extra urgency. It’s from here that the album takes a darker turn.
As you might expect a sleazy guitar riff and suggestive lyrics to burst from Please Be Naked, the sombre instrumental interlude comes as a jarring surprise. Meanwhile, LostMyHead and The Ballad of Me and My Brain both build on a self-diagnosis of insanity. “Well, I think I’ve gone mad! Isn’t that so sad”, Healy growls on the latter track.
Somebody Else steers the album back onto the topic of relationships. This time, Healy ponders on the limbo at the end of a fling. “I don’t want your body, but I hate to think about you with somebody else” he sings. Loving Someone is also a lament of love that experiments with a new style. This time, the frontman ditches his usually melodic croons to half-rap in his Manchester drawl.
About two third of the way in, the title track brings the momentum of the album to a halt once again. The six and a half minute-long interlude opens with a drawn-out electro epilogue and minimal lyrics. The eerie vibe of the track is turned on it’s head by the scorching guitar solos and the irresistible chorus in The Sound. Another upbeat banger, This Must Be My Dream sounds like it’s been pulled from an 80s romantic comedy, sparkling with synth and climaxing with a funky sax solo.
After 15 songs of sharp synth and almost theatrical guitar riffs, the album closes with a stark contrast. The second last track on the album Nana is a stripped-back tear jerker about Healy’s late grandmother. One of the only tracks that isn’t soaked in synth, Nana relies on Healy’s clean vocals gliding over simple acoustic guitar riffs and thrumming bass. “I don’t like it now that you’re dead, it doesn’t feel the same when I scratch my own head,” he sings with sorrow. Similarly, the closing track She Lays Down is another entirely acoustic song that maintains a morose mood. “She just wants to feel something,” hums Healy over finely plucked arpeggios.
A whirlwind of sound, genres and themes, I Like It could be considered either refreshing or distracting. The 1975 has always experimented with a miscellany of musical styles, but some of the instrumental interludes dim the overall flow of the album. Whether you’re pining for the energetic and sexually charged songs from yesteryear or embracing the boys’ new sounds, The 1975 don’t really seem to care either way.
‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’ is out February 26, you can grab a copy here.