The 1975 – ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’ Album Review

Photo Credit: Samuel Bradley

In 2020, The 1975 attempted to take their music to new heights with an expansive, experimental double LP. Whereas many of their peers – from Taylor Swift to Fiona Apple – gained acclaim for branching off in new directions that year, The 1975’s Notes On A Conditional Form proved divisive; one critic labeled it “a parade of smug self-indulgence,” while another said it had “nothing of note to say.” It’s perhaps no coincidence, then, that the Manchester quartet have tightened their act with Being Funny In A Foreign Language – an album nearly half the length of its predecessor and devoid of any more Greta Thunberg spoken-word interludes. Filled with anthemic choruses and sugary sweet love songs, Funny relies on quintessential boy band charm to succeed – nowhere more so than on “I’m On Love With You”; a euphoric number centered around impassioned repetitions of its titular phrase. 

But Being Funny In A Foreign Language is still an album that could have only been made by Matty Healy and company. Here, the band continues their tradition of beginning their album with a track entitled “The 1975.” It would seem like a cheap gimmick if it wasn’t for the fact that the song encapsulates so many of the themes and ideas that the band’s music has always relied upon; on it, Healy talks about Adderall and his penis, name drops Q-anon, apologizes for his youthful antics and expresses sympathy for the plight of his Gen-Z listeners – while simultaneously chastising the way they make “an aesthetic out of not doing well.” The song speaks both to the disdain the band attracts as well as doing a great deal to explain why they’ve become generational spokespeople. For anyone new to the band’s music, the song is also a pretty good bellwether as to whether The 1975 is for you.

Lead single “Part of The Band” exists in the same vein as the eponymous opener – and not just because it finds Healy once again singing about his genitalia. A folky number that recalls the early work of Bon Iver, it is also filled with lyrics that only Healy could have penned – including a few lines that border on self-parody, like “Vaccinsta tote bag chic baristas // Sitting east on their communista keisters.” But there’s also a sense of sincerity and real soul-searching that grounds the song, as Healy ponders “Am I ironically woke? The butt of my joke? // Or am I just some post-coke, average, skinny bloke?

This sincerity pops up across Being Funny In A Foreign Language’s runtime, amidst the more predictable lines about loving ‘soy-boys’ and reading The Nation. “The only time I feel I might get better // Is when we are together,” Healy declares with matter-of-fact vulnerability on the near album closer “About You.” While on “Wintering,” he pens loving vignettes to family members and old friends. It’s these moments that remind you why the band, as pretentious as they may often be, attract such adoration and connect so deeply with their audience.

Written by: Tom Williams

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