By Anthony Cesario
On their new album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language, The 1975 have proven that sometimes the best way for a music act to reinvent themselves is to return to the sound they are best known for.
Two years ago, the English band dropped Notes on a Conditional Form, a sprawling, 22-track, one-and-a-half-hour-long experimental record that jumped from screamo to ambient to folk music to speeches narrated by Greta Thunberg with breakneck speed. While some of the band’s best tracks were included in the mix, Notes was ultimately the worst offender of a path The 1975 had been following since the beginning of their career: burying a solid 10-12 songs in a sea of filler and overly pretentious fluff.
Thankfully, Being Funny is a course correction in every sense of the word. Only 11 songs long, it’s the band’s most concise work to date. And this time around, they teamed up with producer Jack Antonoff – who fans of Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, and practically every other modern female alternative act are no doubt already familiar with – to create a cohesive collection of (mostly) ‘80s-sounding synthpop jams, the style for which the band is most beloved.
Being Funny is not an innovative album, but The 1975 has never been a particularly innovative band anyway, so it’s refreshing to hear them doing the sound they do best. Songs like “Oh Caroline,” “I’m in Love With You,” and “Looking For Somebody (To Love)” are peak The 1975, and are sure to appeal to anyone looking for more of the same sound of their earlier music. It doesn’t hurt either that lead singer Matty Healy’s voice has never sounded more beautiful.
Even when Being Funny experiments with different sounds – coffee-shop jazz on “All I Need to Hear,” folk on “When We Are Together,” shoegaze on “About You” – each song is refreshingly well-incorporated into the tracklist. They don’t feel like additions for additions’ sake, and fit perfectly into the overall sonic experience. In fact, they are some of my favorite songs on the album.
I hesitate to say an album is an artist’s best work so soon after its release, but Being Funny shows every indication of being The 1975’s magnum opus. I expect it to age well amongst the rest of their discography and, deservingly so, be held in even higher regard in the years to come.