Thursday 21 May 2020

Album Review: The 1975 - Notes On A Conditional Form

Album Review: The 1975 - Notes On A Conditional Form

 The 1975 - Notes On A Conditional Form
01. The 1975   02.People  03.The End (Music For Cars)  04. Frail State of Mind
05. Streaming  06. The Birthday Party  07. Yeah I Know  08. Then Because She Goes
09. Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America  10. Roadkill  11. Me & You Together Song
12. I Think There’s Something You Should Know  13. Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied
14. Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)  15. Shiny Collarbone  
16. If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)  17. Playing On My Mind  18. Having No Head
19. What Should I Say  20. Bagsy Not in Net  21. Don’t Worry  22. Guys

Released May 22 via Dirty Hit/Universal Music

It seems only fitting that The 1975 would release their fourth studio album amidst a worldwide pandemic. Having been pushed back throughout the year, it comes at a time no one could have predicted, and might just end up being the soundtrack to our summer spent indoors. That aside, it's a profound and ambitious step forwards for a band that have seemingly already achieved all there is to be achieved.

Recorded over 2 years, in no less than 16 different studios across the world, the final artefact has landed and it's certainly their most dynamic release to date.

Gone is the band's abstract and abbreviated oral sex visualisation that was their ever evolving self-titled intro track. A timely tradition, replaced by a call to action courtesy of activist Greta Thunberg. There's really no denying Manchester's The 1975 aren't well and truly head spinners. And what better way to showcase this other than in ripping up the rule book in their gothic return on People, a track that shocked us all when they unveiled it on a dreary unsuspecting August evening last year. It's often hard to believe its brash and raucous energy, a stark departure from their previous sound, sits proudly amongst happy go lucky boyband-esque nuances, as demonstrated so well in the gooey Me & You Together Song or the softly whispered Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America.

With most of the single's already in existence, the band make the album listening experience all the more real again as the record's interludes seamlessly blend between track's. With what is a large chunk already in the public domain, long before its release date, it begs to question "what else remains?". Yet they still have some tricks up their sleeve, even if it does take some grit and determination to get through. It is 22 songs long after all.

With that in mind there's certainly no denying the band's work-rate, however it does in places feel haphazardly pieced together. Maybe that's the downfall of having so many ideas and no clear indication of direction. It's a nagging feeling that often leaves it lacking in the same uniquely identifiable ways that each of their previous albums' identities worked so hard to build on. The only centralised underpinned sound on this incarnation is the arpeggiated electronic melodies that echo throughout Frail State of Mind and Yeah I know. There's also I Think There's Something You Should Know, with its sub-bass rattling backdrop and Shiny Collarbone, a true nod to the UK's rave scene as bouncy rhythms meet chaotic drum loops and cut up vocal samples. 

Elsewhere, again, the 6 minute Having No Head slowly builds in to another cathartic Jon Hopkins inspired monster, snarling in to life from a spacious ambient intro, all before retreating back to its softly played piano outro. From Matty's country/folk stylistics on Roadkill (with its all too real lyrics) to If You're Too Shy's sickly sweet synth lines, pop perfected sensibilities and dreamy introspective sax solos, the record's often scattered genre hopping approach to songwriting gives it far wider depth than we've ever had the pleasure of before.

What Should I Say is another curveball. It's anxiety punctuated lyrics coupled with over processed vocals and choppy electronic synth pads deliver a haunting address and could easily form a live favourite amongst their set. There's also to note that this the band's most collaborative effort yet with features from Phoebe Bridgers, FKA Twigs, Cutty Ranks and by no means least to mention the record's penultimate track Don't Worry, a touching ballad written by Matty's dad Tim Healy.

Whilst you need to set aside some dedicated time to bathe in its striking moments of brilliance, the record sees the band take on a new persona, sticking it to convention and normalisation. But when have they ever played by the rules?

The 1975's 'Notes On A Conditional Form' will be released May 22 through Dirty Hit. 



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