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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The 1975’s ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ is a love-fueled blend of genres

Dena Flows Creative Commons
Several clips of frontman Matty Healy from the North American leg of The 1975 tour, “The 1975: At Their Very Best,” have gone viral.

The last time the heavily ‘80’s-influenced, British pop-rock band The 1975 put out an album was in 2020 — and things got messy. 

Led by charismatic frontman Matty Healy and rounded out by producer and drummer George Daniel, bassist Ross MacDonald and guitarist Adam Hahn, the 1975 released its fourth album “Notes on a Conditional Form” amid the global pandemic. Soon after its release, Healy was “soft-canceled” after linking the murder of George Floyd to one of the 1975’s songs in a Twitter post; he stood accused of using the Black Lives Matter movement to promote his music. The singer wrote: “If you truly believe that “ALL LIVES MATTER” you need to stop facilitating the end of black ones.” Healy then included a link to the band’s song “Love It if We Made It,” which features lyrics about racism and police brutality. 

Since Healy’s apology and the band’s decision to take a break from social media, the Manchester quartet has rebounded. Three years after the eclectic mixture of sounds that was “Notes,” The 1975 returned with their fifth album, “Being Funny in a Foreign Language,” last October.

Unlike the band’s previous 2020 album, “Notes on a Conditional Form,” this fifth LP feels more simplistic, straightforward and concise at only 11 tracks — half as many as its predecessor. This album consists of smaller folk tracks, orchestral arrangements and a prominence of acoustic guitar not seen before in any other 1975 album.

Despite having plenty of songs that sound like other artists, such as  “Oh Caroline” being similar to a Toto song, The 1975 maintains their identity in “Being Funny in a Foreign Language.” 

The enigmatic Healy has never been shy when it comes to commentary in his lyrics with his bizarre poetry. However, in “Being Funny…” there seems to be more effort on Healy’s part to be more understated and subtle, with an end result that is more musically unified than the previous LPs. 

Many of the songs on “Being Funny,” including the euphoric and groovy single “Happiness” and “I’m in Love With You,” are reminiscent of the same dopamine-heavy, heartfelt funk characterized in their sophomore LP, “I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It.” Healy expressed that the band’s process for “Being Funny” was to prioritize organic studio recordings over digitized instrumentation, stripping the band’s sound to its essence.

“I’m In Love With You” is right in line with “The Sound” as one of the band’s most radiantly cheerful songs they’ve ever released. However while “The Sound” has a tone of somewhat cheesy love, “I’m In Love With You” is a much more subdued, true love song with puppy love ideals and an undeniably catchy chorus that can’t help but bring a smile to your face.

The subversive ‘80s romp of “Looking For Somebody to Love” is enthralling, with its bright, neon-soaked sound paired with Healy’s dark lyrics. Healy depicts an “incel-like” character that commits a mass shooting as he sings, “But the boy with ‘the plan’ and the gun in his hand was looking for somebody to love.”

The viral hit “About You” is the penultimate song and focal point of the album, featuring a gorgeous duet with Carly Holt, the wife of guitarist Hann. In the bridge, Holt dreamily sings, “There was something about you that now I can’t remember / It’s the same damn thing that made my heart surrender.” This musical continuation of their 2013 hit song “Robbers” song is the most trademark “The 1975” song on this album and the perfect addition with its haunting, ethereal vocals and a stunning melody.

While the first half of “Being Funny” is chock full of pop hits, the middle and final few tracks take a step back from the pop genre and delve into some of the rawest songs made by the band to date. 

“All I Need To Hear” is a slow-dance ballad that serves as the album’s “tender center,” as Healy sweetly pleads to a lover “Tell me you love me / That’s all that I need to hear.” While the song is a fresh sound coming from The 1975, it ultimately amounted to the most forgettable track on the album. 

The album’s final track, “When We Are Together,” is a wistful ode to a significant other: “I’m better at writing was just a way to get you biting / Oh the truth is that our egos are absurd.” Healy is known for hiding truths in hyperreal phrases, and “When We Are Together” follows that pattern. 

Overall, “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” feels more like a “resting” album, with the band still experimenting with new sounds. While this 43-minute clean organic pop album certainly has its moments and was a great way to end the 2022 year, “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” does not sit as the band’s best album. 

Although “Being Funny” took a few listens to soak in due to its jumbled genre-melting blend, the album feels much less chaotic than previous albums, and the newer sound coupled with The 1975’s usual sound pairs pleasantly well. We can’t wait to see what this band has in store for the future.

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