It finally happened, The 1975 released their highly anticipated sophomore album, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, maybe we shall just shorten it for this article to, ‘I Like It When You Sleep.’ The album follows on from the four-piece’s award-winning debut album, The 1975. The album was recorded in Los Angeles, produced by vocalist, Matty Healy and drummer, George Daniel, alongside Mike Crossey. I Like It When You Sleep takes a step back from radio friendly pop, exploring electronic soundscapes and rock guitar riffs, with elements of 80s synth-pop amongst jazzy production and vocals. The album takes you on a dark journey, drawing on influences of pop-punk, indie rock, electronic synth pop and elements of jazz to really curate the unique sound of The 1975.
The album opens with a short track, titled The 1975, which gently opens with a short snippet of swirling synths before immediately stopping. Then Matty’s vocals come in with a choir of gospel vocals in the background tied with a throbbing synth that fades in and out. I can really picture this track to be a dramatic opening for their live show where the band is completely in black before their signature stage lights start to shine. The album then jumps into the leading single of the album, Love Me, which is saturated in 1980s pop. The glitzy track is filled with electric guitars, funky synths and a bit of sax thrown in for good measure. The leading track really was the start of the shift from the first album, moving from more melancholic hits to the upbeat 80s synth pop vibe. The next track is UGH! which draws on the more dark and deep side of the band, discussing serious issues about being addicted to cocaine. The punchy lyrics melt amongst funky tight synths and off-beat melodies, which makes the track quite upbeat if you were not paying attention to the lyrics.
The next track on the album is A Change Of Heart, which features Matty’s soft vocals, swirling around jittering guitars, atmospheric synths and audio samples that remind me of a soundtrack of a Nintendo game I played when I was younger. The track is also one of the more reflective tracks on the album, with lyrics like, “I feel as though I was deceived/ I never found love in the city,” referencing the popular chorus of one their hit tracks, The City. A Change Of Heart is quite melancholic and the track that I felt expressed the most pain in I Like It When You Sleep. The next song is my favourite off the album, with She’s American which features agitated guitars, cruisy bass, simple synths and a saxophone solo. Immediately the chorus sounds quite similar to Settle Down. The lyrics are quite witty, which explore the differences between America and the UK, “If she says I got to fix my teeth, then she is so American.” If I Believe You is a track that explores religion and turning to religion in hopes to reduce pain and suffering. The track features quite gorgeous gospel choirs that really give the track a bit of punch to get the desperation across.
The seventh track on the album is Please Be Naked, and despite what you’d expect from the title, it is anything but sensual and seductive. The instrumental track is quite melancholic with the dreamy piano at the forefront of the track. Lostmyhead opens with distorted guitars and nostalgic, ethereal synths with soaring, electric guitars and cinematic soundscapes similar to an M83 track. Lostmyhead is another favourite off the album, where The 1975 successfully push their sound into the depths of space. Following onto The Ballad Of Me And My Brain, it is quite evident how dark this album is, as the track explores Matty’s relationship with his mental health, with unsettling backing vocals and Matty’s aggressive vocals really showing the effect of fame has had on him and possibly the rest of the band.
The ever-atmospheric, Somebody Else was another single that the band released just before the album came out. The track opens with distorted synths, 808 beats and Matty’s melancholic vocals, begging to know how to move on from a lover. I’m not quite sure what is happening in Loving Someone, the production is unsettling and the vocals being rapped just does not fit. Props to The 1975 for trying something new but the track is a bit of a mess that feels like a forced experiment. Fortunately, immediately after we are gifted with the title track of the album, which features a skittering, twinkling soundscape with gentle vocals that fade in and out. The instrumental track goes for nearly seven minutes and it is an ambient wonder.
The second single released off the album was The Sound, which saw the band go into an upbeat, piercing synth-pop direction with flashy synths, funky baselines and unapologetic, groovy vocals. This Must Be My Dream takes the band into a more boyband direction, with a poppy ode to a girl with the backing choir adding to the dreamy ballad before shooting into an anthemic sax solo. Paris sees the band dial it back with a simplistic track that observes a selfish girl with her own messed up issues. Nana is probably the most emotional track on the album, which sees Matty sing about the passing of his grandmother paired with a simplistic, poignant acoustic guitar. The last three tracks on the album are quite melancholic and minimalistic, with the acoustic last track, She Lays Down, which explores Matty’s mother’s post-natal depression.
Once you listen to the album in its entirety, it is so much more than just a ‘pop record.’ I Like It When You Sleep takes The 1975 a step away from mainstream indie rock, as they explore deep things and experiment with their sound and production. Expecting an entire record filled with 80s inspired synth pop, the album is filled with hidden gems and heart wrecking emotional, acoustic tracks. Personally, my favourite songs on the record are Lostmyhead, She’s American and I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. However, I do note that their tracks The Sound, If I Believe You and Nana, really show the band’s progression of their sound and ability to convey a feeling through their lyrics and production.