4.5 out of 5 stars
I learned a long time ago that The 1975 will always shatter every possible assumption I could make about their new music releases, and their work will leave me both in awe and contemplating my existence every time. Aside from a track or two, their new album “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” is no exception.
This genre-blending whirlwind of a fifth studio album was released on Oct. 14 through Dirty Hit Records. It is a brutally honest, painfully vulnerable and comedically candy-coated creative project that can easily capture anyone’s attention.
Potential listeners should be aware that the topics addressed on this album can get very heavy and may be triggering. Several songs include explicit sexual innuendos and topics like school shootings, drug use and suicide.
The band consists of singer, songwriter and guitarist Matty Healy, lead guitarist Adam Hann, drummer and co-producer George Daniel and bassist Ross MacDonald.
Names like Jack Antonoff and the band’s own George Daniel stand out on this album’s list of writing credits, but much of its content seems to come from Healy’s thoughts and personal experiences. The songs focus on his discomfort with vulnerability, his thoughts about romantic relationships and his desire to better understand himself and the band.
“Because the 1975 has been my journal and it’s been so dynamic, it’s been very difficult for me to decipher exactly what we are or what I am at a particular time. I recognize that that is always part of my expression: talking about the ever-increasing culture war around me,” Healy said in an interview with Vulture.
This idea of Healy expressing his views on the culture war is heavily emphasized in the album’s introductory track titled “The 1975.” According to Healy’s song annotations on Spotify, this is the name of the intro track on all the band’s albums, and it serves as a life update.
The latest iteration of “The 1975” vividly portrays Healy’s opinions of his life and society in the early 2020s. It also establishes the tone of the entire album well. What made this track one of the best was the striking contrast between its grim social commentary and powerful orchestral sound.
Healy focuses on the idea that society only guides young people toward a dark and apocalyptic future. The line “I’m sorry if you’re livin’ and you’re 17” is repeated in a slightly unsettling, disheartening and poetic way throughout this track.
“Happiness,” the album’s second track, seems to focus less on social commentary and more on the vulnerable nature of romantic relationships. I listened to this song when it came out as a single prior to the album’s release and have enjoyed it from the start.
The slight but purposeful cheesiness of this song is strangely appealing, and it fits well with the song’s overall sound. Many of the album’s tracks channel the ’70s or ’80s pop sounds that everyone on the internet really appreciates right now, including me.
Unfortunately, the moments in which Healy steps back from trying to soften his sincerity through ’80s saxophone solos get lost in the album. “All I Need to Hear” and “Human Too” are moving ballads full of genuinely heartfelt lyrics. They fit the album’s theme well, but the rest of the album makes them sound underwhelming.
Aside from that minor critique, “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” is a quality piece of genre-blending work that anyone could gain something from. It surpasses every standard through its quality, wit and ability to bring joy and attention to Healy’s outlook on life in the 2020s.
Photo from abcnews.go.com.