Recommended Tracks: “I’m In Love With You”, “Looking For Somebody (To Love)”, “Wintering”
Artists You May Like: Bleachers, Vacation Manor, LANY
The latest reviews of Being Funny In A Foreign Language, the fifth studio album from UK genre-bending veterans The 1975, have been a bit of a jumble. Half of these reviews respect the band for doing what they do best – penning culturally reflective lyrics, contradicting themselves, referencing past works, and knowing how to set a mood. The other half of these reviews dismiss the guys, specifying that these elements make them unoriginal, uninspiring, and irrelevant. Being in the game as long as they have – 20 years since forming, nearly 10 years since the debut album – The 1975 are due for this divide; bands and artists that have “been around” end up becoming too familiar for their own good. Still, whether you are obsessed with The 1975, despise The 1975, or feel indifferent about them, they are going to release music that speaks to them. Is it worth listening to? Let’s find out.
In the months leading up to the release of Being Funny In A Foreign Language, the band rolled out a few singles that doted on love. We have the feel-good smash “Happiness,” its celebratory pop sound reflecting how grand it can be when you’ve truly been shown “what love is.” There is also the merry “I’m In Love With You,” which finds the usually chatty frontman Matty Healy becoming tongue-tied with the girl he loves. While he may not be able to utter the words, “I’m in love with you,” to this person, the bright sounds of the music relay what he feels. We know that love is something he holds dear, as heard on the slow jam “All I Need To Hear.” Over a stripped-back, piano focused production, Matty compares this love to other aspects of his life, singing, “I don’t need music in my ears / I don’t need the crowds and the cheers / Oh, just tell me you love me / ‘Cause that’s all that I need to hear.”
Aside from these warm expressions of love, the album also contains songs that deal with its darker, haunting elements. On the driving “Looking For Somebody (To Love)”, Matty ponders if those who act out in violent ways are doing it out of a lack of affection. With deep vocals, he sings, “Maybe we’re lacking in desire / Maybe it’s just all fucked,” knowing that there is no point in trying to break down why people behave in such ways. He does acknowledge the way love can make someone desperate on “Oh Caroline,” however, giving us lines like “The place I want to be / Is somewhere in your heart / Somewhere guaranteed / ‘Cause baby, I’ll do anything that you wanna.” This powerful desire is also found on “About You,” which features guest vocals from Carly Holt, the wife of guitarist Adam Hann. The track has been described as a continuation of the band’s 2013 hit “Robbers,” its main character reminiscing on the intoxicating love that was shared on that classic hit.
Of course, this wouldn’t be an album by The 1975 if we didn’t have specific observations of life. The opener “The 1975” changes musical form from album to album, but it seems like its familiar lines of “Go down / Soft sound” are officially retired. Instead, Matty gives us commentary like “Whimsical, political / Liberal, with young people as collateral” and “We’re experiencing life through the postmodern lens,” leading him to feel sorry for teenagers these days. On “Wintering,” he paints a more intimate scene, introducing us to characters he runs into at a Christmas party. Nonchalantly, Matty shares, “And I bumped into Julie in the co-op, she asked how the family’s been” and “He’s called Bill and he plays with the words like a skill, yeah he’s pretty great,” the scene becoming more intricate with each guest.
In the end, Being Funny In A Foreign Language is the project that previous releases were building towards. Gone are the sprawling instrumental tracks, the lengthy tracklist that spans every genre. The guys have matured since their debut album, and their music, their way of creating, has matured as well. As for why the album has divided various critics, there could be many reasons, but Being Funny In A Foreign Language was never promised to be anything other than a representation of the guys and what they were feeling or thinking upon its creation – something that they’ve lived up to on each album. For now, The 1975 asks that we all just try to connect with one another, grow with each other, and allow ourselves to be funny now and again – no matter if we joke around in a foreign language or in a language inherently our own.
You can listen to Being Funny In A Foreign Language on platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud.