The sophomore album is daunting for any band, especially a band that released a particularly successful debut LP. The second album can make or break a group, solidifying them as a success or getting them written off as a one-hit wonder. UK rockers The 1975, however, have nothing to worry about.
The 1975 landed on the global map with their 2013 debut, which was chock-full of pop-rock gems like “Chocolate” and “Sex.” Their sophomore release, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, is a slickly produced, experimental record that pushes the band away from their debut rock sound into pronounced niches of ’80s-inspired, dance-funk pop and soundscape-filled melodic indie music. It honors what the band has already perfected, while offering even more.
I received a preview of the sprawling seventeen-track album during the group’s performance at Club Nokia last December, and fans at that show were already singing along to the perfectly packaged upbeat singles “Love Me” and “UGH!”
The quartet’s new album showcases their mastery of pop while upping the ante with the track “She’s American,” which features Bowie-reminiscent guitar hooks, dancing synths, and air-tight harmonies. Modulated harmonies crescendo into choruses à la Prince on “If I Believe You,” but The 1975 balances these sugar-coated pop bites with a fair number of indie cuts. Fans receive layered, dreamy soundscapes on “Somebody Else” and “Lostmyhead,” and the gaps between genres are bridged by instrumental interludes, including the lush, electronic-driven title track.
The entire record is an exploration of love (oftentimes one-sided), alcohol, and drug abuse, and frontman Matthew Healy has also pushed himself to focus more on, well, himself. The lead singer has never made excuses for being cocky, and he openly owns his rock-star persona on the new album, explaining, “It’s not about reciprocation / It’s just all about me” on “The Sound.”
Lyrically, the album walks the line between self-actualization and self-indulgence. “Change of Heart,” one of the simplest tracks instrumentally on the album, explores falling out of love while referencing The 1975’s debut record with the lines “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine / Now you just look like anyone / I just had a change of heart.” The ’80s-esque ballad “Somebody Else” sees Healy crooning a heartbreaking chorus of “I don’t want your body, but I’m picturing your body with somebody else” to a pulsating synth beat.
I Like It When You Sleep… showcases The 1975’s ability to move across genres broader than the indie pop they stuck to on their debut. They deftly maneuver from bouncy, guitar-picked pop cuts to layered, shoegazey indie songs to anywhere in between. With its exploration of genres, this sophomore album lives up the hype of the debut that launched the band to international fame.
The 1975 will be coming through Los Angeles on a national tour in support of the new record. After selling out their first performance at The Shrine, they’ve added an additional date on April 18th, and tickets are available now.
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