By Erin Norton, Membership Assistant
Artist: The 1975
Album: Being Funny In A Foreign Language
Favorite Songs: “The 1975,” “About You,” ”Part Of The Band” and “Oh Caroline”
Within the first few seconds of hearing the 1975’s new album Being Funny In A Foreign Language, I immediately felt transported back to my childhood bedroom where I heard their music for the first time.
Not only did it bring up so much nostalgia, but it was also a reminder of why us long-time fans adore the band in the first place. Listening for the first time felt like a warm embrace from an old friend.
The album as a whole offers a fresh perspective on vulnerability, the value in togetherness, and how love has the uncanny and boundless ability to bring together unlikely pairings and, ultimately, save us.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS ERA FOR THE 1975 FANS NEW AND OLD
Nothing is more exciting than an album announcement, and that is something that the 1975 is by-far proficient in. For them, it is so much more than an announcement; they’ve created a whole tradition around it.
In February of 2021, two years after they released their fourth album, they cleared their entire social media presence. To fans, this has become a signal which can only mean one thing: new music and a new era is coming.
Not long after their social media reset, the cryptic messages were released one-by-one, teasing the new music. Soon enough, summer and early autumn came and so did all four of the amazing singles from Being Funny In A Foriegn Language— “Part Of The Band,” “Happiness,” “I’m In Love With You,” and “All I Need To Hear.”
WHAT SETS THIS ERA APART?
This era is black and white, very similar to their roots— their self-titled era. Although with this one, there are ultramarine motifs from time to time, a color we haven’t seen the band use all that often.
Not to mention, this is the first time that we’re getting a photograph of a person on the album cover— that person being frontman Matty Healy. This further pushes the overall themes of connection, vulnerability, and community that the album does such a great job of encapsulating.
On Spotify, Matty Healy talks about the significance of Being Funny In A Foriegn Language. He explains how it’s the “height of empathy.” “It’s like two trees that go off in infinite directions,” he says.” “To have an understanding of both and kind of bring them together… would save the world.” The album and this era in particular, in essence, center around how imperative human connection is and how love will save us.
HOW THE THE 1975 LEAN INTO NEW SOUNDS & THEMES
Along with a new era comes a new sound. The energy Being Funny In A Foreign Language holds is fresh and streamlined.
Boasting just under 44 minutes of incredible music, it’s the shortest album the 1975 has ever released. It’s also the first time they’ve ever released an album that didn’t feature some type of instrumental track, which is new for so many fans that eagerly await their clever arrangements.
Although, this album makes sense without them. The lyricism is the cherry on top of the album, as it perfectly exemplifies just how Being Funny In a Foreign Language is so brilliant.
One of the largest differences between this new record and past ones is the fact that they place a strong emphasis on using real instruments instead of their usual, more computerized approach.
There are a couple of songs that really lean into the more folk-rock sound, which is a sound that the 1975 explored a little bit in their fourth album, Notes On A Conditional Form. These songs are “Wintering” and “When We Are Together.” Each of these songs are guitar-heavy and arranged in such a way that I could imagine them sung around a campfire. They both handle themes of family and love in such original, tender ways that it’s impossible not to keep them on repeat!
“I’m In Love With You” and “Happiness” are two of the more upbeat songs from the album. They capture feelings of joy that come with being with people who you love, themes that fans of the 1975 are not used to hearing sung so vulnerably. Still focusing on endearment and closeness to loved ones, these serve as the upbeat siblings to the slower ballads on the same topic.
CALLBACKS HELP MAINTAIN A SENSE OF FAMILIARITY
The 1975 is nothing if not referential, however. Naturally, they had to make at least a couple callbacks in their new album to their older music.
Most famously, their song “About You” is said to be a continuation of one of their most popular songs “Robbers,” which is off of their debut self-titled album. This becomes apparent after only the first couple of seconds, since “About You” possesses the same iconic haunting echo “Robbers” does.
There are of course many other similarities between the music from this album and their older music.
“Part Of The Band,” in particular, makes me think a lot of “Loving Someone” from their second album and “Sincerity is Scary” from their third. They stand apart sonically, though. The usage of real instruments in “Part Of The Band” makes it sound rich and robust, whereas “Loving Someone” possesses the same computerized sound that was synonymous with that particular era of The 1975.
“Sincerity is Scary” seems to be a healthy mix of both era’s sounds because it’s very percussion heavy. Another bridge between the two is that the song contains a balance of spoken word and sung lyrics. In this way, the 1975 highlights the poetics in the lyrics themselves. There’s something so beautiful in the vulnerability of that style of song, and it’s such a joy to see it continue.
THE 1975: AT THEIR VERY BEST? IT’S QUITE POSSIBLE!
The 1975 very cleverly named their tour “At Their Very Best,” and I have to say, I believe this statement to be very correct.
Being Funny In A Foreign Language is not afraid to be sincere and is unapologetically earnest.
It is deeply fresh. And simultaneously, it pays homage to their roots. This is seen in their consistent use of humorous, self-deprecating lyrics that still have the ability to be incredibly introspective. And it’s also seen in the sonic parallels to previous works from the band.
While the sound of this album is so very unlike their usual sound, it is at the same time so authentically the 1975.