The 1975
Being Funny In A Foreign Language



by Drbebop USER (96 Reviews)
October 21st, 2022 | 2 replies

Release Date: 2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You gotta show me how to push if you don’t want a shove

The 1975 have always been a bit of an unusual band. Beneath the pretty exterior of the four and their dedication to making pop hits, there exists an intense desire to break the mould as it were. It takes a fair bit of guts to be one of the biggest indie groups in the world yet to mix and match sounds and be as weird as they are. It wasn’t always this way obviously, their early work was mainly straightforward Electropop tinged with emo, funk, shoegaze and ambient but as time went on, things shifted and they became known for their experimentation just as much as their big stadium sized hits. Compare their debut record and 2020’s sprawling monster work ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’ and they barely seem like the same band. Sure, that love for poppy hooks and new wave sounds is still present but it’s now mixed in with a smorgasbord of other genres like garage, country, screamo, post-rock and soul, along with very current, very in the moment lyrics. It’s a bit of a detriment however. Despite their knack for making good music, their albums are often overlong, chaotic and exhausting to listen to, and it’s exactly that why ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ not only feels far more concise but also refreshing.

It’s understandable really, we do live in an era where the playlist rules supreme and people can easily pick and chose their favourite songs from a project and listen to them in any order. In fact that’s probably what ‘Notes’ was intended to be. But for the first time since their debut, the 1975 have made an ALBUM, not just a collection of very good songs strung together by a related theme and sound. Sure, the dense production work, witty (though naturally somewhat cringeworthy) lyrics and unified, retro inspired sound that has been the group’s staple since the beginning is still present, but for once it feels like they’ve taken a breather and let the music speak for itself, rather than being caught between a massive number of other tracks all fighting for attention. From start to finish, ‘Being Funny’ is consistent and unified. It knows what it wants to be and it does a damn fine job doing it, to the point that it almost feels like a greatest hits album. Naturally there’s some genre jumping, it’s what the band does best really, but the whiplash you’d often get doing from a track like ‘People’ going into a soft orchestral interlude into a garage song into another interlude into a country song that was present on their last record is no longer here. Tracks naturally flow together, never overstay their welcome and feel organic and fresh. Opener ‘The 1975’, with its ‘All My Friends’ sampling piano riff, warped vocals and string section fits snugly next to the new romantic inspired dance floor filler ‘Happiness’ which naturally goes brilliantly into the synth pop tour de force ‘Looking for Somebody (to Love)‘. It’s like that through the whole album, nothing feels wasted or thrown in to increase the album’s chaotic appeal. There’s not a lick of filler here. Are some tracks better than others? Of course, but for once everything is worth the sum of its parts. Even ‘Human Too’, the one track most listeners have picked out as the weak link here, feels right at home next to the shoegaze bliss of ‘About You’ and the Paul Simon inspired folk rock of ‘Wintering’.

Production wise, the band continue to excel. Helmed by Healy and the band’s secret weapon George Daniel with additional work by Jack Antonoff, the tracks sound both scrappy but cohesive. Loose but tight. Lo-fi but hi-fi. While it sounds like it clashes with itself by that description, the homely but professional sound of the album only adds to the low-key but lively feel of the record. The squeak of the strings and warped vocals on the Bon Ivor inspired ‘Part of the Band’ provide a lovely contrast to the warm glow of the aforementioned ‘About You’ and the homely country feel of closer ‘When We Are Together’. Again, it simply adds to the far more restrained but familiar sound of the album and helps make the record even better.

I think it’s fitting that the album’s working title was ‘At Their Vest Best’ because that’s exactly what this is. It’s the 1975 at their most streamlined, coherent, focused and consistent. Sure it doesn’t have their best ever songs on it (which is sort of expected given their status as a singles’ band), but what is present here is still consistently excellent and inspired, and not dragged down by their commitment to be as diverse and all encompassing as possible like their previous records. A brilliant set of songs, sounds and vibes. And at a lean 44 minutes, it’s raring to be replayed as soon as it ends.

Standouts: Happiness, Looking for Somebody (To Love), Part of the Band, I’m In Love With You, Wintering, About You, When We Are Together

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Contributing Reviewer
October 21st 2022


Album Rating: 3.5

pos'd, very nice writeup. I'm not quite as strong on this record as you are but it's definitely very enjoyable and production is gorgeous

October 23rd 2022


Album Rating: 4.0

"Tracks naturally flow together, never overstay their welcome and feel organic and fresh. "

100% agreed. That's the general feeling I get from this record. Nothing very strong, but definitely comfortable and pleasant.

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