If you are familiar with The 1975, you’ll understand the relief of their new album being only 11 songs. After their 4th album Notes on a Conditional Form drowned under 22 songs of very little substance, Being Funny in a Foreign Language released on October 14 is a long awaited follow-up.
It starts with a self-titled track as all their albums do, however this is the first time it has been developed into a full song, not ambient sound. Staying from the previous album, singer Matty Healy’s vocals are overdone in autotune, but critically describe our socio-political environment, apologising to the youth. Dreamy and layered, the song features string and brass sections, a staple of their sound for a while.
Following into ‘Happiness’ with a pop-gloss shine and conversation snippets, it’s sonically full but the lyrics have an overbearing repetition that hides any sincerity. The track translates better out of context when it was released as a single.
‘Looking For Somebody (To Love)’ has the driving synth and drumline of an 80s training montage, progressing to playful rhythm. The lyrics are violently motivational, touching on the threats to American schools.
‘Part Of The Band’ has an off-putting vocal mix that hinders the song until the second half. Staccato speech, layered voices and string sections build to an attractive mix filled with quotes and difficult to unpick lyrics. Moving past this, ‘Oh Caroline’ has a deeply enjoyable melody and synths. The main body of the song sounds almost exactly like a Bill Wurtz song (better known as the guy who made ‘history of the entire world, i guess’ on Youtube) which are usually filled with changeups, strange visuals and lyrics. However, ‘Oh Caroline’ is a universal song, and grabs attention with its flow. Continuing these enjoyable pop rhythms is ‘I’m In Love With You’. The track runs from cynicism with charming and simple lyrics, decorated with joyful acoustic guitar and glittery chimes. The words are passionate and naïve: “I got it! I found it!”. Expanding on urgent love is ‘All I Need To Hear’, although the stripped back sound would benefit from less autotune on Healy’s voice. Sonically, it’s one you would make a music video to in your head while trying to look edgy on the bus. It’s simple, short and sweet.
‘Wintering’ explores family and Christmas, a chaotic and eccentric holiday for the band through the urgency of arguments and relationships. They weren’t trying to make a grand piece of music, but a picture of life, the ease of which makes it a standout on the track-list. It has the sweetest lyrics on the album, starring “I just came for the stuffin’, not to argue ‘bout nothin’ “.
Unfortunately, ‘Human Too’ falls flat. It’s been sung by many people many times in many ways.
Ignoring that, ‘About You’ is a complete sonic throwback to ‘Robbers’ from their first self-titled album. Again, it’s charming, moving, and tingly. Coupled with the introspective lyrics: undeniably satisfying. ‘When We Are Together’ sees Healy’s autotune finally fade and sings beside soft acoustic guitar. There is delicate storytelling of conversations, feelings, and thoughts. It resolves the album by revealing the events of love towards whoever was the focus of Healy’s lyrics the whole time. It ends with the same piano melody as the first track, bringing us full circle.
This album has faults, but it grows with charm and nostalgia that warms your ears to liking it.