The 1975 are back with their fifth album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language. Produced by Jack Antonoff, this album is innovative in the typical 1975 style and explores the band's musical prowess. There's a growth and maturity to this album that is refreshing. The band put care and tenderness into this album where it's not trying so hard. It's creative yet accessible to new listeners and familiar to previous 1975 fans.
The album begins with "The 1975", which is the beginner for every 1975 album. Though each has featured piano, the previous four have had other elements that give listeners a peek behind the curtain; this opener features a feverish slamming of piano keys and lead singer Matty Healy's darker lyrics, sung in an almost pleading, from the gut tone. With classical undertones, dream-like saxophone, and guitar phrases at the track's end, The 1975 shows the band's musical mastery and Healy's lyrical skill.
"Happiness" is a track distinctly reminiscent of something from I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. Backed by a cheery dance floor beat, with a vivid saxophone accompanying Healy's broody lyrics, "Cause oh, I'm never gonna love again, hey I'm never gonna love again…."
"I'm in Love With You" is a reminder of the 1975's roots. The somewhat stripped, pop-punk sound harkens back to their self-titled start. Another track with catchy guitar phrases and a chorus that stays in your head is a track with radio playability and accessibility while appealing to the OG 1975 fans like myself. "All I Need to Hear" is a seriously minimal, piano-laden love song, which is where Antonoff's influence is noticeable. However, the track has a purity and unique rawness that is appreciated and still feels fitting for the rest of the album.
"Looking For Somebody to Love" is a track full of 1980s vibes. An automatic dance floor stormer complete with the band's use of synth, saxophone, and background clapping to create a frenetic atmosphere, the track is a jolt of panicked joy.
"Part of the Band" is the one track on the album that draws me away. It sounds too much like the band is trying to be Bright Eyes. It's an honest attempt, but between the sound and lyrics, I almost had to skip over the song. "Oh, Caroline" is another song that seems a callback to I Like It When You Sleep… The synth sounds paired with earnest lyrics from Matt Healy and the pianos and saxophone create that painful yet gorgeous atmospheric love song that feels honest, not contrived.
Because of previous releases, there was honest trepidation in writing this review, but this album has everything from synth-pop tracks to acoustic guitar and piano pieces. There's something for everyone here, which is appreciated and shows growth without being overzealous, and Antonoff's production brings vividness to the entire work. I listened cautiously, yet came away excited about what the band is doing and eager to see what's next. Being Funny in a Foreign Language is worth repeated plays. God Bless The 1975.