After several years of exaggerated, dramatic, long-winded projects, The 1975 have released Being Funny In a Foreign Language – an apology album. The opening track, per the usual named “The 1975”, is a completely different track than the one we’re used to when we embark on a new album journey. Where we once heard Matty Healy sing “She can’t be what you need if she’s 17” in “Girls” from their self-titled album, we now hear him say “I’m sorry if you’re living and you’re 17”. It’s a stark change from their past work, and the only other “The 1975” track to open an album, the first being a speech by Greta Thunberg on 2020’s Notes on a Conditional Form.
The album clocks in at 11 tracks long, and for me is a real breath of fresh air. I felt very bogged down by their past couple albums, and even the great singles aren’t quite enough for me to dive into a full listen-through of either A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationship or Notes on a Conditional Form. I cherry-pick through those albums often but I couldn’t tell you what the rest of them sound like. With Being Funny, it feels like the band is getting back to their core. They’ve done some fun things and pushed the envelope, and now they’re ready to make real music again instead of noise. And I say “noise” affectionately, of course.
I think they biggest thing that stuck around from their experimental days is the composition choices. Matty Healy’s commitment to his sobriety has really brought about some of the best musical choices yet from the band. I think sometimes it can take being pushed to the edge to really find a foothold in something, and I think the 80’s influenced synthpop spot the band has decided to build in has really paid off for them.
The lyricism here is nothing less than we expect from The 1975, full of self-deprecation and on-the-nose criticism of society. This album deals with love and friendship differently than past works – in a more honest way, one could say. In other tracks, like “Paris” from 2015’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful but so unaware of it, reflect on memories the guys have made during their travels, or like “Robbers” from their self-titled, they often beat around the bush and make tightly laced metaphors that are impossible to parse. And I think the title of this latest project is a nod here. Being Funny In a Foreign Language – not just not in English, but in an entirely new way. They are trying honesty on for a change, and it’s strange; it’s a learning curve.
Suffice to say, I love this new album. It feels familiar in a way The 1975 always has once I finally gave in to liking a “boy band.” From “Looking for Somebody (To Love)”, a song about school shootings, to the bridge of “When We Are Together”, where Matty sings about “Central Park being SeaWorld for trees”, this album is as varied and as methodically put together as all of their other projects. It’s just more concise. It seems The 1975’s language lessons are paying off.
by Nadia Alves
Nadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.