To a new listener, it might sound as if The 1975 panders to their teen audience, playing up their boyband features to sell hundreds of thousands of records with no regard for art.
But by the end of their most recent release — a 17-track ramble titled I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it — it’s obvious that The 1975’s seemingly mindless pop sound is a guise.
In fact, the band’s core sound lies in manipulating and experimenting with their pure pop influence, twisting it to represent exactly what the group wants. Pop experimentation is nothing new, especially with artists such as FKA Twigs and Charlie XCX bridging the gap between indie and mainstream to form a new variant of popular music. The 1975 simply add their contribution to the modular pop world, assimilating an intangible factor similar to that of The Strokes or Oasis into their sound and feel.
Lead singer Matt Healy certainly has the mouth to warrant a comparison of his group to Oasis. Whether it’s a discussion on fake celebrity friendships, Justin Bieber or sexual fluidity, Healy finds himself right in the middle of the debate, both through interviews and his music. I like it when you sleep’s first single, “Love Me,” is one of the most fun tracks on the album with its funk-influenced synths and catchy chord progression, but the fundamental building blocks of the song rely on Healy’s yearning for real love, not something built on fame or status.
For every moment Healy asserts himself as a true songwriter, there’s another moment where his prose slips to an embarrassing level. During “The Sound,” Healy confidently sings, “It’s not about reciprocation, it’s just all about me, A sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe,” but earlier in the song claims, “I can’t believe I forgot your name, Oh baby won’t you come again?” These lines might not play into each song well, but they show that Healy still has work to do concerning his schizophrenic songwriting style.
Not every track on I like it when you sleep carries the same weight as “Love Me,” with several songs feeling like emulations of artists the band admires. The album’s eighth track, “Lostmyhead,” sounds like Healy stole Anthony Gonzalez of M83’s notebook and recorded the first song he could find. “Please Be Naked,” although quite a somber interpretation of ambient music as a whole, doesn’t play into its title whatsoever.
The fun certainly doesn’t stop with “Love Me”, though, with the fuzzy bass on “She’s American” and piano-ballad-turned-pop-hit “The Sound” providing uplifting moments during the course of the album. The companion track to “Love Me,” titled “Loving Someone,” is the highlight of I like it when you sleep, acting as the perfect display of why The 1975 should be respected rather than scorned for their mainstream sound.
This four-piece is one of the simplest yet most perplexing bands in today’s popular music scene because of their acceptance of their teeny bopper fan base. Beyond the light shows, jangle pop guitars and chest tattoos, the group’s approach to their work is matched by few musicians today — this is a group of musicians who truly care about not just the financial success of their efforts, but the quality as well.
Not every moment on I like it when you sleep creates a lasting impact, but enough songs hit their marks to make new fans out of naysayers.
Album: I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
Genre: Pop/Alternative Rock