Variety is the spice of life, and The 1975, with its funky electronic rhythms and lead singer Matt Healy’s even funkier hair, know all about spicing things up. With 17 tracks, their new album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, is as long-winded as its title and could have easily fallen prey to repetition and flat, consistent songs. Instead, The 1975 push the bright and bold LED aesthetic it is known for; every song in this album bursts with uniqueness, zealousness and vitality. It’s a mess, but it’s an endearing mess, with The 1975 unashamedly unconcerned with its strange conglomeration of songs.
Of course, The 1975 isn’t one to shy away from ambition, considering its first formidable 16-track self-titled album. It was on this album that The 1975 created its offbeat yet sensational pop-punk sound through songs like “The City,” “Chocolate” and “Girls.” A mixture of Healy’s endearingly unguarded vocals and a (slightly off-tempo) blunt and eclectic beat established the band as having a sound that was distinctively its own. With its first album, The 1975 not only lit a space for itself in the music industry with blinding, neon lights but also made a promise to come back in a way that both kept its idiosyncratic music alive and pushed the label of its creativity.
I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It carries out that promise and more. The album is an assorted mix of homages to the past and salutes to the exploration of the future. The surface-level electronica dance hits clash with the bone-deep, heavy beats of mournful ballads to conjure an album that is some parts old, some parts new and all parts incredible.
The new album begins with the self-titled “The 1975,” a complete parallel to their first album’s opening track, also self-titled “The 1975.” Both songs in the two different albums sound so similar they might as well be the same song. Hearing the soft, dulcet chorus over a rising melody repeat itself in this new album is comforting and creates a connection between past and present. The album then transitions into “Love Me,” a light-hearted celebration of former renowned songs such as “Chocolate” and “Girls.” “Love Me” (just like its predecessors in The 1975) is jaunting and weird. The unpredictable beat in the background almost has as much animation as Matt Healy’s voice, as he sings “and love me / if that’s what you want to do.” However, instead of being unsettling, the song’s surreal sound mimics the sound of The 1975’s entire first album. Much like this album’s first track, “Love Me” is captivating not in its strangeness, but in its familiarity.
Slowly, through songs like “Love Me,” and later on, “UGH!” and “She’s American,” The 1975 guides its listeners through an album that starts off recognizable but slowly veers into experimental. This beginning familiarity helps prevent the album from becoming distant as a result of an overwhelming number of songs that push the boundaries of The 1975’s usual sound. Instead, through subtle R&B influences, songs like “If I Believe You” and “Loving Someone” help add depth and appeal. Smooth and slow, “If I Believe You” oozes sex appeal; through “and if I believe you, would that make it stop / if I told you I need you, is that what you want?” Healy’s voice conjures up images of soft sunset beaches and dimly lit rooms as it crawls out of the speakers. “Loving Someone” is somewhat similar, with the ambient “yeah, you should be loving someone / oh, oh, loving someone” of the chorus contradicting the quick and direct vocals of the verses. Both these songs are enthralling in their novelty and keep the album itself from becoming flat.
However, the best moments on I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It are on songs that are quietly simple. With a band whose music has such an intense presence, songs like the title track, “Nana” and “She Lays Down” shine in their unobtrusiveness. The title track is entirely instrumental, with a tranquil driving beat that makes the entire song twinkle like fairy lights. Both “Nana” and “She Lays Down” finish the album off with softly acoustic guitar strums. The minimal background noise of these two songs helps bring the vocals front and center. Healy’s melodious singing voice signs the album off with a gentle flourish.
Overall, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It reads like an older sibling of The 1975’s first album. It is similar in many aspects and holds much of the same winning qualities, but it’s inherently more mature. The 1975 felt comfortable in experimenting with music that might be hard to jive with, but they hold their own, standing dauntlessly with the album. This album proves that, right alongside wine and cheese, The 1975 can be added to the list of things that age with grace.