The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep has been edited by Ruhaan Shah.
“I’m challenging people to sit through an hour and 15 minutes and 17 songs that all sound completely different from each other. It’s quite an emotional investment. It’s art… the world needs this album.”
– Matty Healy, lead vocalist of The 1975.
Released on 26 February 2016, The 1975’s second studio album ‘I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It’ was topping the charts in both, the United Kingdom and the United States. When You Sleep is 17 songs long that includes three expansive ambient interludes.
Starting with the ethereal self-titled track The 1975, it mirrors the band’s internal struggle of dabbling in a new style of music while simultaneously assuring themselves that they have not lost their way in the wrath of fame. The first single Love Me is a heavy social commentary on the culture surrounding fame. On using cardboard cutouts of pop culture stars like Charlie XCX and Ed Sheeran, the frontman of The 1975, Matty Healy said to NME that,
“The (cardboard cutouts) were people who were very culturally relevant and famous. We’re not having a go at them; they’re just representative of this generation the same way that I am.”
Apart from evolving with fans, the song’s chorus is strikingly similar to The Isley Brothers’ 1969 classic; It‘s Your Thing. Dedicating a whole ballad to cocaine the third track UGH! is a lyrical treat exploring the singer’s addiction to drugs.
Moving on to my personal favourite, A Change of Heart details the stages of falling out of love with someone. It fully brims with lyrical throwbacks from their debut album. Circling back to one of The 1975’s most iconic song Robbers, the lyrics take a jab from ‘She had a face straight outta magazine/God only knows, but you’ll never leave her’ to ‘You used to have a face straight out of a magazine/Now you just look like anyone.’ A wordplay on the famous chorus from the band’s older songs The City goes from ‘Yeah if you wanna find love then you know where the city is’ to ‘I feel as though I was deceived/I never found love in the city.’ Drummer George Daniel defined the narrative song as being by far, the most simple song on their sophomore record.
The fifth track She’s American compares cultural differences between The 1975 and their female American fans. The lyrics ‘And don’t fall in love with the moment/and think you’re in love with the girl’ echoes everywhere. In the sentiment of the lately released, Justin Bieber x Halsey collab The Feeling.
By delving into the gospel-styled If I Believe You, we can see the artist’s mental struggle for his lack of belief in Jesus. Following that, is the first instrumental track on the album, Please Be Naked. Initially soft, the song builds with the gradual addition of sounds and instruments before abruptly stopping. And finishing with a single bar of a repeating piano riff. Another abstract representation of the artist’s rising emotions is seen in Lostmyhead, where Facedown used the line dramatising drug overdose Lostmyhead flips the line onto Matty’s confusion in finding his brain. Cleverly following that, The Ballad of Me and My Brain revolves around the same issue of mental health. One of the album’s standouts Somebody Else premiered on Zane Lowe’s World Record on Beats Radio 1 where Matty teased that, “It’s something that talks about the guilty feelings that you don’t really like thinking about.”
Loving Someone sets itself apart from the rest of the tracks in the album being a half-rapped social observation. The band is popular for their stunning backdrop during live shows. However, in Loving Someone, a sea of rainbow washes over the room, representing the pride flag of the LGBTQ+ movement. After that is the long instrumental title track iliwys. The band employs familiar, a repetitive format of using the same lyric. Here, ‘Before you go, (please don’t go) turn the big light off’ is evident in this track too.
After that comes The Sound, one of the record’s most upbeat song. It grabs the hearts of those hungry for the band’s sleek and glittery funk. Currently, it is The 1975’s highest-charting single in the UK. The Rolling Stone named The Sound one of the 30 best songs of the first half of 2016. Moreover, in popular culture, the song appears on the soundtrack of 2016 racing video game Forza Horizon 3 and the romantic film Me Before You.
The fourteenth track on the record, This Must Be My Dream explores the complicated feelings stirred by a new relationship before it all goes sour. Immensely loved among The 1975’s fans, Paris has a certain kind of melodic sadness. Upon listening to the entire song, Paris is very likely a euphemism for cocaine and chasing the high.
The album ends with stark and affecting acoustic tracks about the death of Healy’s grandmother in Nana which has the most heartbreaking closing line ‘But I’m bereft you see/I think you can tell/I haven’t been doing too well,’ and his mother’s collapse into postnatal depression in She Lays Down.
From being voted as the Worst Band by NME Awards in 2014 to winning the Best Live Band title in 2017, The 1975 has come a long way. I Like It When You Sleep requires attentive and precise listening for full appreciation. Once you sink your teeth into the beats, it gets a grip on you. I can go on and on but in the end, like The Guardian says:
“I Like It When You Sleep is an album that fancies itself as a challenging work of art, but turns out to be a collection of fantastic pop songs full of interesting, smart lyrics.”