Let me tell you a love story. The scene begins innocuously enough: a cold and damp February morning two years ago, the sun hours away from rising. A still-drunk Scottish man throwing up the night’s revelries on the sidewalk. Another drunk man being escorted off the bus that had just arrived at the station from its overnight journey. A 10-hour trip ahead on a smelly and cramped Megabus from Edinburgh to London. The same album on repeat throughout said trip through the British Isle.
And that’s when I fell wildly in love with The 1975.
Three years after their self-titled debut album, these British lads have released their second album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. And. I. Love. It. I won’t attempt to convince you to like the album title, but I will attempt to make you love the album itself. Or if not love, at least give it a listen.
I listened to this album for the first time on my way to work the morning of its release, which turned out to be a poor decision as it left me emotionally incapacitated for the remainder of the day. Some of my friends have been disappointed with the lack of consistency in the sound of this album, and I am sympathetic to their critiques, especially after the melodic cohesiveness that was the band’s first album. However, lyrically this album is much-improved from the first, and that’s a win for me. It’s also bleeding all sorts of ~*feelings*~ and I’m all about a good dose of vulnerability when it comes to music.
A few words on my album favorites:
The second single, “UGH!”, was the song that gave me hope for this album after the disappointment that was “Love Me.” It’s an account of singer Matt Healy’s second go-around with drug addiction: “You’re the only thing that’s going on in my mind / Taking over my life a second time.” Devastating predicament addiction is, but at least it’s a fun song to dance to while alone in your house with only your cats for company.
A Change of Heart
What I like most about “A Change of Heart” are the references to songs from the first album: “You used to look like a face straight out of a magazine” (a la “Robbers”) and “We never found love in the city / We just sat in self-pity and cried in the car” (a la “The City”). Always a fan of references to former works by an artist; it feels like an inside joke (or inside something, if not a joke) between fan and band.
Perhaps my favorite song on the album, “She’s American” is one of those tunes that calls for rolling down the windows while listening at a near-deafening volume and allowing your heart to be flooded with all sorts of contradictory feelings in the process. The song chronicles a breakdown Matty once had during a show (“Look he’s having a breakdown / Oh what a let down, a shame, I think he might die”), the challenges of life in a big city (“Big town / synthetic apparitions of not being lonely”), and, of course, the trademarks of the stereotypical American girl from the British perspective (“If she says I gotta fix my teeth / She’s so American”). This song has so many lines that make me wish it were possible to give words a big ‘ole hug, but I’ll settle for giving Matty a big ‘ole hug instead, I suppose. My favorite: “Don’t fall in love with the moment and think you’re in love with that girl.” UGH SO GOOD.
If I Believe You
“If I Believe You” is a hymn of sorts written by a self-proclaimed atheist: “And I’m broken and bleeding / And begging for help / And I’m asking you Jesus, show yourself.” Regardless of one’s beliefs, it’s a spiritual experience on all melodic levels. The band performed this live with a choir on a BBC Radio 1 segment, and I died a li’l bit while listening. The song ends with the repetition of a question I think most of us - especially those of us trying to figure out who we are now that we can no longer place our identity in that of a student - wonder at some point in our lives: “If I’m lost, then how can I find myself?”
The Ballad of Me and My Brain
In this song, Matty personifies his brain and goes on the hunt for his lost mind, checking for it in the car, in Sainsbury’s, on a bus, and ending the search with a conversation with a nurse. Like other songs on the album, the song serves as a commentary on the effects of fame, ending with the lines: “‘Oops I Did It Again’ started to play / forget my brain / remember my name.” Too good.
You know that scene at the end of the third Pirates of the Caribbean where Will Turner’s heart gets cut out of his chest? While he’s alive?! And with a blunt knife, at that?! This song does the same exact thing to my poor, defenseless heart each time I listen to it, yet I can’t bring myself not to listen to it. ‘Tis all about coming to terms with the fact his ex has found a new boo. “Our love has gone cold / You’re intertwining your soul with somebody else.” BREAK MY HEART INTO A MILLION UGLY PIECES WHY DON’TCHA.
“Loving Someone” is a blatant commentary on society, celebrity culture, and media:
“My heart is telling me the telly isn't telling me anything / I need but it needs to keep you selling me / Besides celebrities lacking in integrity / Holding up the status quo instead of showing your kids that they matter …”
And that’s only the opening few lines. Always up for a good social critique, and this one has a rad sound that steps away a bit from the 80s vibe found in many of the other tracks.
This song is the ultimate stranded-on-a-desert-island-and-can-only-listen-to-one-song-for-the-rest-of-your-life song and one that is entirely appropriate to listen to on repeat incessantly. Picture that scene in (500) Days of Summer where Tom dances in the street with random strangers and an animated bluebird; I have a deep desire to recreate that scene when I listen to this song.
This Must Be My Dream
Straight outta the How to Make a Phil Collins Song handbook, “This Must Be My Dream” is yet another 80s-inspired tune - complete with a sax solo at the bridge - about a girl who seems too good to be true (‘cuz she is). Two of my favorite lines in the album call this song home: “I personify that lack of freedom in your life” and “I thought it was love but I guess I must be dreaming by feeling something instead of you.”
I realize this list of favorites has essentially become nearly every song on the album aside from a small handful of other tracks. One of my top 5 album faves, for sure.
(Note: This post originally appeared on That First Year.)