The 1975
Notes on a Conditional Form


3.0
good

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
May 22nd, 2020 | 227 replies


Release Date: 05/22/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Everything in its right place

I have a love-hate relationship with The 1975. Every album, they craft a handful of songs that convince me they have the potential to be one of the greatest modern rock bands. Usually, those tracks are cushioned by fluff that couldn’t be distinguished from the insides of my bed pillows. Their lyrics aren’t bad, they’re atrocious. Somehow though, even in my anger, that makes them more memorable. They actually titled an album I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, and of course, it had to be their best release, making it much harder to ridicule. Now the year is 2020 and, in an era where streaming music is all the rage and most human beings have the attention span of a moth, they release a behemoth 22-track record that, of course, just has to flow beautifully and not feel like a burden to get through at all. At every turn, they practically beg to be torn a new one by critics, only to stick a semi-awkward landing with their latest and most ridiculous stunt as most of us applaud and hold up 7’s and 8’s to reward their guts, while others of us trip all over our keyboards to anoint their work as the next OK Computer as if The 1975 even exist on the same astral plane as Radiohead. I’m goddamned sick of it – yet, here we are again.

[inhales deeply]

If you accept all of the aforementioned gripes and praises as the definition of the band, then Notes on a Conditional Form is the most The 1975 album yet. It drifts in and out of ambience and electronics, occasionally rising to the veritable bopper, sometimes settling into a cozy acoustic groove. They issue a stark environmental warning to anyone who has been living under a rock for the past thirty years via an introduction that features Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, then blast the doors down with one of their all-time heaviest rockers in ‘People’ – where frontman Matt Healy’s urgent shouts admittedly sound incredible. There’s an assortment of front-loaded interludes (‘The End’, ‘Streaming’) where strings ache and swell but serve very little purpose to the album’s flow. On ‘The Birthday Party’, deservingly or not, they pour salt in the Pinegrove wound (“They were kinda fucked up before it even started / They were gonna go to the Pinegrove show / They didn't know about all the weird stuff / So they just left it”). Throughout all of the clumsiness, Notes on a Conditional Form still sounds amazing thanks to its immaculate production, which allows electronic cuts like ‘Yeah I Know’ to sound transcendent. Ironically, The 1975 are at their very best when they keep it simple, like they do on the aforementioned no-frills rocker ‘People’, or the gorgeous acoustic ballad ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’, where Matt Healy imparts religious sarcasm while Phoebe Bridgers joins in to sing about masturbating to the girl next door, Claire. Again, it’s one of those situations where the lyrics are so bad that they’re almost good.

‘Me & You Together Song’ is Notes’ version of ‘It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You’ – a neon-bright, hyper synthesized pop banger that swells with warmth and optimism, but diminishing returns carry a toll. Naturally, an album torn in this many directions is bound to include some lo-fi hip-hop, right? We get it in ‘Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied’, which is hilariously out of place and features a huge, gospel-style chorus. They come back to this, for some reason, with some weird reggae-styled vocals in the background of the ultra-repetitive ‘Shiny Collarbone.’ The four song stretch from ‘Playing On My Mind’ to ‘Bagsy Not In Net’ is awash in a sea of meandering electronics that I dare you to remember, and that whole section probably could have been amputated from Notes’ nearly hour-and-a-half bottom line for the greater good. Things pick up again towards the end with the penultimate ‘Don’t Worry’, which sounds like a Bon Iver i,i b-side, and the melodic yet ultimately unaffecting ‘Guys’, which concludes our journey with an apathetic shrug.

[exhales]

So, now what? The 1975 have created a very bloated version of A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, which means that it has some really impressive moments of electronic experimentation and upbeat indie-rock gems, but also a large swath of songs that could have been left to a future EP or b-side collection. Even the worst moments here have their charm, and the best ones usually get tripped up by some cringe-inducing lyrics or a head-scratcher of a songwriting decision. Everything feels buoyed by a combination of the band’s reputation and their willingness to do what most other bands won’t – which sometimes pans out, but often faceplants. Notes on a Conditional Form is The 1975 as we know them – just good enough to not be bad. It’s not a glowing endorsement, but surely there’s someone out there who has already typed the phrase Kid A about this, so I’ll just leave the highest praise to that critic. As for me, this is just another not-so-brief inquiry into my love-hate relationship with The 1975, where the side of hate is starting to run way with things.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
nolerthebowler
May 22nd 2020


4883 Comments


I bet this is okay, and I bet I'll hate it anyway, because fuck Matty Healy. And fuck pitchfork.

TundraL5Z
May 22nd 2020


4870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

best 1975 easy

zakalwe
May 22nd 2020


31595 Comments


Top to tail bollocks

Romulus
May 22nd 2020


8875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

that ratings chart!

TundraL5Z
May 22nd 2020


4870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the ratings are all over the place lmao

nolerthebowler
May 22nd 2020


4883 Comments


I'd wager only 10% of the people who rated it even listened a single time. Can't blame em.

Slugboiiii
May 22nd 2020


98 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Worst 1975 album. Outside the singles and a couple of other tracks, this is far too bloated. Don't even get me started on that fucking opening track

Slinkinlip
May 22nd 2020


31 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It's ultimately forgettable. I got through it, but I can't remember a song that I liked. That's not to say it was bad as there were some moments I was bobbin' my head to, but I don't know what part that was. My biggest complaint is it's exhausting to listen to. I looked down at one point and was ready to listen to other new releases and saw I still had 8 songs left to go.

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 22nd 2020


35686 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I could make a very good 10 track LP out of this 22 track album.

Digging: Movements - No Good Left To Give

trackbytrackreviews
May 22nd 2020


3434 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

How can you not even mention best track If You’re Too Shy

thomasdavidge
May 22nd 2020


128 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

These guys couldn't name a record if their lives depended on it.



1. Me & You Together Song

2. Frail State of Mind

3. Guys

4. Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)

5. Having No Head

6. Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America

7. If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know)

8. The Birthday Party

9. I Think There's Something You Should Know

10. Don't Worry

11. People



That's a 4.5.



Flabby record and its got Healy's textbook psuedo smart guy bullshit but still, it's a bunch of fun tunes. Tough call between this and AIIOR.

BeeRyan
May 22nd 2020


1566 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Intro track is somehow worse having heard the whole thing, woof

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
May 22nd 2020


10299 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is v good but wayyyyy too many interludes



Also that Pinegrove lyric is so innocuous, especially by Healy's standards, the attention it keeps receiving is silly

Digging: sprain - As Lost Through Collision

BeeRyan
May 22nd 2020


1566 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

And fwiw I actually really liked this but I can't imagine what the intended impact of that intro track is.

SquirtVonnegut
May 22nd 2020


3 Comments


I knew some people who liked The 1975 in college and they were like the most basic white boys you could possibly imagine, so maybe that’s just the sort of image I associate with the band, but to me the band has always seemed like if Keane or Coldplay tried to pretend to be avant-garde.

Gyromania
May 22nd 2020


30581 Comments


was really put off by people, which is a top 5 worst song of the year atm for me

TundraL5Z
May 22nd 2020


4870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I hate 1975 fans so much, think they are the next coming of jesus or someshit

thomasdavidge
May 22nd 2020


128 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I mean it is a very garish tune. I think with the 1975 the on the nose and kinda goofy lyrics can either make a tune really come alive or absolutely kill it. Love it if we made it for example is a straight up rager. Shit like the ballad of me and my brain though, horrible.

nolerthebowler
May 22nd 2020


4883 Comments


I’m not gonna bother listening to the full album, just the suggested “fat-trimmed” versions that I’m seeing on this first comment page. Hope you guys chose well.

nolerthebowler
May 22nd 2020


4883 Comments


“whether it’s conscious or not, I believe a lot of the 1975 hate is rooted in misogyny and the idea that if teenage girls like something it’s bad”

A real tweet from a college acquaintance



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