After a few false starts under various names and a string of Eps, the 1975 exploded in 2013 on the back of social media buzz and some impressive singles to become the most talked about active Mancunian band since the demise of Oasis. Their sound is essentially an updated version of the arty new wave/synth pop which garnered acts like Scritti Pollitti and Talking Heads great commercial success and critical acclaim. While there are still modern influences to be detected across their sound, it is one which is rooted in the past, yet somewhat updated for the modern palate. With the massive success of their previous album, following that up would be no easy task. Have they succeeded with “I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful, yet so unaware of it”?
Well for a start, it’s not just the album title that’s sprawling, it’s the album itself, at 17 tracks and an hour 14 minutes running time. While the sound on this album is not drastically different to that on the self-titled (ambient background electronics, huge hooks, ringing guitars), it is a rather more expansive and synthetic take. They drop their toes into spiky new wave spite with “Love Me”, a swaggering, satirical take on selfie culture, utilise a smooth R&B palate with “UGH!” and demonstrate their power to compose massive hooks and choruses with “The Sound”. That particular number even features a brief outburst of guitar histrionics, a welcome flash of organic energy in this largely synthetic record. Yet they have not compromised the artsy streak which helped them stand out from the many other bands playing in the same ballpark. This album features not one but two songs reaching over the six minute mark.
“Lostmyhead”’s distorted waves of synths and guitars call to mind post rock and shoegaze artists and “If I Believe You” featuring some tasteful saxophone. As a whole the album is far better produced than their debut, the electronic layers feeling more natural and having space to breathe. The 1975 have learned from their debut, having crafted a record that is both a meditative artistic endeavour and a huge pop album in equal measure. Feeling both more modern and closer connected to the past than their debut, it is almost like they have sandwiched the two sides of seminal British group Talk Talk, that group’s early new wave pop and the sprawling, jazzy epics that would help pioneer the genre of post rock alongside Slint. Their debut had many standout moments, but at times often felt like they were talking a bigger game than they were delivering, yet here they have certainly delivered.
“I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful, yet so unaware of it” is many things. It’s one of the standout indie records of the year yet a massive chart topping pop record. It is smooth, sublime and well-constructed, yet at the same time quite ridiculous in places. While the core values the band’s sound is built on have been maintained, they have been able to build upon it, improve on previous mistakes and that has helped them to rise above the British indie-pop pack to become a distinct and vital entity in their own right. Those who found their debut too fey or are just turned off by frontman Mattie Healy’s vocals will probably not want to check this out, but anyone curious to see how potent the interplay of art and pop can be is well advised to give this a spin.
Recommended Tracks: UGH!, The Sound, Love Me.
For Fans Of: Talk Talk, Bastille, The Neighbourhood, Twenty One Pilots.