When we spoke to THE 1975 frontman Matty Healy a while back, he said that he wanted the band’s second album to come out exactly a year after the first – September 2015.
Five months late on that rather ambitious promise, here it is – the impossible-to-remember yet memorably-titled I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It.
And boy, was it worth the wait.
When the band went dark on social media last summer, no-one was really ready for the flood of colour to come spewing forth when they revealed their pretty-in-pink-and-powder-blue new look.
But their second album, I Like It When You Sleep… is a kaleidoscopic explosion of vivid shapes and forms, a riot of glittering sounds lifted and twisted by these musical magpies.
With the rich neon bursts of singles Love Me and The Sound to the more darker hues of the lonely, smoky late-night soul of If I Believe You and Facedown’s evil twin Lostmyhead, with its claustrophobic swirl of industrial noise, we’re treated to as full a spectrum as we’re likely to see on one album for quite some time to come.
Despite the regular shifts in sound throughout the 74 minutes of I Like It When You Sleep, there’s a canny ebb and flow sweeping each song along. Opening with the now-de rigeur instrumental opening track – a reworking of their debut’s opener The 1975, acting now as a theme tune – this sophomore album bursts into life with the sugary exuberance of Love Me and Ugh!
We’re then eased into the dream-pop break-up of A Change Of Heart (boasting the killer line: “And then you took a picture of your salad and put it on the internet”) before the fizzy Settle Down sound-alike She’s American whisks us off our feet.
There are so many moments of sheer surprise and delight in I Like It When You Sleep – the choral loops of The Ballad Of Me And My Brain, the wonderfully wonky synth lead of Change Of Heart, the delicate grace of piano-led instrumental Please Be Naked, the sass of Loving Someone, the smooth swing of Paris, the polished melancholy of Nana (with one line which hit home with this reviewer enough to shed a tear).
There’s as much focused gravity surrounding subjects of mental health, death and drug addiction as there is lofty mischief, and whimsical romance – style and substance. Fancy that!
The staggering scattergun approach falls on the right side of ‘kitchen sink’ – there’s method seeping through this pop music madness. These 17 oddly-shaped pieces, offering glimpses of familiarity and taking bold footsteps into new territories, manage to fit together perfectly. We ride the hyperactive highs and gently crash down with the heavy, heartfelt laments – it’s quite a journey.
The 1975 are a very misunderstood act (just take the internet criticisms they face in the new video for The Sound). From boy band throw-downs to indie indifference (unless you’re the NME, then you can back-peddle all you like), Matty and co can be tricky to comprehend. But there are no shits given. That’s their game.
As much as they triumph with the straight-up chart-bothering bubblegum pop, they relish in the complexities of sound, pretentiously and playfully teasing out threads of atmospherics well over six minutes on the album’s ambitious title track (it reminds me of Jimmy Eat World’s epic breakdown on Goodbye Sky Harbor).
I Like It When You Sleep… is a head-spinning GoPro-wide vision of what ambition, attitude and bags of talent and can achieve – an equation which will result in the Manchester lot hitting those stadium stages. It’s just a matter of time…
>> The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It is out now via Dirty Hit Records.