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Belly - Laughing to a Joke with No Translation: A Review of The 1975's Latest Album

Updated: Sep 18

With the recent release of ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’, the 1975 have been overwhelmed with positive reviews and critical acclaim. But what is all the fuss really about?

Thinking about the 1975 can get quite metaphysical quite quickly. They’ve been around for over a decade. Not only that, but they’ve been chart- topping, record - selling, artistically - compelling for at least ten years. They’re been around for quite some time and like everyone else (unless you’re a literal child) have been living through it all for quite some time.

Some artists pride themselves on their creative abilities to separate reality from their art. They create absolute escapes where the only connection to it and reality, is the undeniable, unchangeable and uncontrollable time that goes by when in such an escape. Time is the harsh reminder, and anything that tells the time is a stone, chained to your ankle to keep you grounded. When you check your phone for the time, (because honestly, who wears a watch these days?) and you realise the momentary relief you just experienced and truly just how momentary it all is. The escapes might be relief in a meditative or mindless way. With art, you’d hope it would be the former, but it might not always be the case for everyone. And the latter relief is much more ‘mentally sedentary’; watching TV or scrolling on TikTok. They’re not two distinct categories though. Quite the opposite. Things like going on a long walk can be one or the other or they can be both at the same time. Perhaps there is a certain element of meditation in mindless and mind numbing activities? Regardless, their relief loses track of time and by extension, potentially, reality too.

Now at this point, everything I’m saying is all sounding a bit too pseudo- intellectual for anyone to actually read without rolling their eyes so much their whole body does a tumble turn. So now I’ll get to what I’m really trying to say. These phones that tell the time, they’re part of the 1975 experience. Ever since they made the message abundantly clear in ‘A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships’ the 1975 have been bridging this connection between sweet escape and impartial reality; where things are the way they are. Healy has adopted the morphology of a sort of philosophical alien. Making observations from places of distance and recording them with an inquisitive sense of humour and an ironic fearlessness. For a band that made a name for themselves at a time when YouTube was only in 240p and when the Instagram app still looked like a crappy Polaroid camera, they’ve been living through perhaps what might in a hundred years be revealed as the most interesting and influential technological revolutions in history.

I think there’s always an initial skepticism that comes when you hear the words ‘social commentary’ attached to a band or an artist. What in the world could someone with a million or so pounds really have to give in terms of ‘social commentary’? And for the most part, I’d say this still remains true, I’m not sure if they could really give that much without having it come across as staged or just plain ignorant. But the 1975, and in particular, Matty Healy’s lyricism has been and is even more so now, providing a ‘social commentary’ that is objective, observational and as fast- paced as Apple Software development.

If you watch any recent interview with Healy about writing for this album, it’s very clear that he’s not trying to put up some façade of intellectual superiority or partaking in some form of, as one of my friends calls it, ‘intellectual masturbation’,( which is basically just acting like a complete know-it-all with a wisecrack attitude and cynical laugh). The types of people at a party who everyone is listening to, but who, in earnest, don't have any real or true friends of the self - sacrificial type.

If I was to describe this album in terms of food, I’d call it one hell-of-a-good cheese board with a tall glass of red on the side. This album has the maturity and tastiness of good cheese paired with the sophistication and downright fun of a nice glass of red (white wine is not half as sophisticated as red, sorry I don’t make the rules).

Salt and sweet delicacies aside, the actual musical palette on this album is one that whets the auditory appetite. Musically speaking, this is very obviously a 1975 album. It has everything that just screams 1975. The punchy synths, the jittery epileptic guitar riffs and the silly yet sweet lines about family Christmases, girls who like scented candles and kissing in grocery stores. The way I see it, you can broadly divide all 11 songs on the album into two categories; bops and ballads. Both are great.

The 1975? Ballad. Happiness? Bop. Looking for somebody (to love)? Bop. Part of the band? Ballad with elements of a Bop. Oh Caroline? Bop. I’m in love with you? Solid Bop. All I need to hear? Groovy Ballad. Wintering? Defo Bop. Human Too? Ballad (honestly though, this song is a bit of skip) About You? Power Ballad. When we are together? Cute Ballad to make you go ‘awh’. Expanding their instrumental selection and playing around with form and song structure, like they do in their single ‘Part of the Band’, adds nodes of maturity and complexity. While ‘I’m in love with you’ possesses the same nervous honesty as the last album’s ‘Me and You Together Song’.

There is no doubt that this is a very good album. From its catchy choruses and whimsical yet blunt lyrics to its ultra - melodic guitar riffs and the fun element of cheeky childishness, it's no wonder this album has been so well received by both fans and critics alike. Like cheese and wine on a quiet Friday night with someone special, it just hits the spot after a week of busy songs and early - morning albums. Oh, and it’s good fun. Who doesn’t like a fun album?

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