A second album is always a challenge, especially after near universal love for your debut. Some bands wilt under the pressure and present a near carbon copy follow up, others soar. In facing this challenge, the 1975 clearly thought they’d embrace it and have released a 17 track album that manages to balance quality and quantity, other than in the album’s unnecessary title. I’m just going to refer to that as “I Like It…” from now on.
17 tracks and a 16 word title is bold enough, so having gone that far, it makes sense to open the album with a self titled song and it’s a lovely start – all swirling effects and choir like vocals. The real album kicks off quite wonderfully with track 2, Love Me, which comes across like INXS and Young Americans era Bowie with Brian Eno adding synth noises for good measure. It sets the tone for the whole album. There’s a distinct 1980’s feel to this and to most of the album and generally that works. There’s nothing wrong at all with updated takes on previous eras and “I Like It…” does this admirably. That feel continues on UGH! a track all about lead singer Matty Healey’s cocaine troubles which has a Prince like limberness to it, despite the weighty subject matter. Paris and A Change Of Heart offer a take on 80’s style R&B ballads that works well enough. Only This Must Be My Dream takes that decade’s influence too far though, sounding more like a parody of a track than one built using the sound of the era as a starting point.
It’s not all 1980’s style funk however, as this album contains a number of surprising twists and turns. At their heart, The 1975 sound like a pop group despite looking and acting like a bunch of indie kids. The Sound for example, is as pop as they come. Upbeat, pop house that is bright, shiny and really quite marvellous. She’s American also pushes all the pop buttons and even adds a dash of INXS, making it a song that sounds ready to be played in large venues all over the place. The fact that this album has now gone in at Number 1 on the Billboard chart suggests that such venues are ready and waiting for them.
Overall, despite an initial concerns the sheer length of this album gives you, it’s one worth persevering with as it contains a number of gems. Having the confidence to undertake something like this is admirable. Ok, sometimes the lyrics try a bit too hard to be all “serious artists” and the instrumental tracks are probably redundant, but that aside, this is fascinating, hugely enjoyable album that suggests The 1975 are here to stay