Album review: The 1975 – Being Funny in a Foreign Language
Manon Martini reviews The 1975’s newly released album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language.
The 1975’s fifth album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language, stands entirely at odds with the post-modern experimentalism of their previous record whilst continuing to boast the invariable genius of Matty Healy’s lyrical flare.
The band pulls inspiration from jazz, techno and disco tradition to produce a quintessentially glossy pop sound. That’s not to say the album lacks the depth and breadth of its predecessors- the grounded tracks become emblematic of the group’s intimacy as they explore the band dynamic and their relationship with one another through a more stripped-back, naturalist approach.
Throughout the album, the lyrics glibly push boundaries- often in stark juxtaposition to the upbeat bounce of the instrumentation. The literary candour ultimately seeps its way into the musical vernacular of the band as they articulate a joyful gaiety throughout. Known to waver along the lines of literary pretension, The 1975 surrender some of their extended metaphors to the sheer glee of pop, with one of the first noteworthy lyrics in the album being “I think I’ve got a boner but I can’t really tell”.
The literary candour ultimately seeps its way into the musical vernacular of the band
Despite their more farcical moments, the lyrics retain an element of self-reflexivity from the previous albums. ‘Part of the Band’, for example, explores societal gender norms and boundaries as we listen to Healy self mockingly situate himself within the structure that he critiques so harshly. He refers to the archetypal ‘woke’ young woman as a “Vaccinista tote bag chic baristas” whilst in the next breath, questioning whether he is “Ironically woke? The butt of my joke? Or […] just some post-coke, average, skinny bloke.” We listen through what sounds like an intimately closed jam session as Healy unravels tight coils of sexual and gendered tension.
The first track of the album, ‘The 1975’, jumps at the listener with its ecstatic piano, screeching violin and jazzy ending, all of which make for a perfect opener that sets the tone of embarkment- even if this adventure is a little closer to home. Despite the cohesive ’80s pop feel to the album, there are certainly moments of vulnerability between the band and the listener. ‘Happiness’, for example, boasts some wonderfully simple oxymorons such as “I would go blind just to see you” and “I’d go too far just to have you near”. Such literary twirls will never fail to resonate with an audience- particularly one in their twenties. The superimposed interview audio that sits just barely audible beneath the palimpsest instrumentation makes for a personal yet universally enjoyable track.
Whilst at times there is a sense of deja-vu in regards to theme and structure, there is certainly something for everyone in this exuberant, feel-good album.