Album Review: The 1975 – ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It’

My first impression upon listening to The 1975 was that they meant business. It was early 2013 and their song, “Sex,” was just starting to garner a ton of buzz here in the US. That song, distinct from most of their work, was really rough around the edges and ultimately catapulted them into indie madness followed by the success of “Chocolate.” However, what really drew me in was when I discovered the other side of The 1975 – the 80’s meets modern day synth-rock vibe that, I personally feel, no other band captures as well as they do. Their 2013 self-titled debut album had a certain zing that I still can’t put my finger on, but it works.

Now, as the band releases their sophomore effort, (are you ready for this?) I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, (phew!) critics have been speculating if they can top the success of their debut. The impression I’m getting from Matt Healy and company, however, is nothing but indifference towards the media mixed with a burning desire to top themselves for their own benefit. I’m pleased to say that it has been done and better than the first time.

Though it has been reiterated more than once since their rather eccentric stint on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, (which is starting to make a lot more sense with the release of their video for “The Sound”) the stakes have never been higher for the UK quartet, yet that’s never been a deterrent for them in the past. In fact, it’s only just the beginning.

Clocking in at a little under 75 minutes long, it’s pretty clear this record is meant to be consumed thoroughly and not for short attention spans – a refreshing take on the way music is consumed where singles are currency and the only way you’ll ever get a listener’s attention is to give them something short, sweet and mindless. The 1975 believes we’re better than that so they justifiably took things up a notch.

Starting off with lead single, “Love Me” – a commentary on the superficial elements of fame – you can just taste the bittersweet disgust in Healy’s voice, which I can’t help but marvel at how it mirrors the impression of a Tears For Fears track. This album just might be their modern Songs From The Big Chair. While a lot of tracks these days focus on “squad goals,” Healy has admitted he’s sick of hearing about it, hence the celebrity cardboard cutouts featured in the video.

That signature 1975 notion of feeling like you’re in an 80’s movie continues throughout this record with tracks like the heart-wrenching “Somebody Else,” “UGH!,” “She’s American,” and “A Change of Heart” – which hit me with the lyrics, “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine, now you just look like anyone” and “I feel as though I was deceived, I never found love in the city” – an homage to “Sex,” “Robbers,” and “The City,” from their debut. “If I Believe You” hit home as it navigates the struggles, questions and tribulations of trusting in a higher power.

“The Ballad of Me and My Brain” revolves around Healy’s mental state as, in true 1975 fashion, he wittily recalls certain situations that have led him to start questioning his own sanity while personal favorite, “This Must Be My Dream,” f$#ked with my own sanity as Healy sings, “Let me tell you about this girl / Thought she rearranged my world / This must be my dream / Wide awake before I found you,” sharing that all-too-familiar feeling of building up hope for a chance with someone out of reach. As if the entire track wasn’t an epic 80’s jam already, take the sweet sax thrown in there for good measure and what you get is a heart exploding into a million shiny pieces.

Album high note for me personally has to be the balled of “Nana.” As Healy describes his late grandmother, I couldn’t help but remember my own and how this year marks the tenth anniversary of her death. “I sat with you beside your bed and cried / For things that I wish I’d said / You still had your nails red / And if I live past 72, I hope I’m half as cool as you.

Equally jam-packed with killer lines that keep you on your toes as it is aesthetically pleasing, this record has the potential to skyrocket these four boys from Manchester who started playing together as teens to a higher level – how they handle the fame is entirely up to them, but we think they’ve got this covered.

I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It is available now here.