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The 1975 returns with golden ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’

by Conner Tighe

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte's editorial board. 

The 1975 debuted in 2013 with their first album The 1975, which was unlike any other band at the time. The group’s music was indescribable in a sense of having a new sound and vocals that may be off-putting to some. Matthew Healy, the leading vocalist, knows no boundaries with his expressions of sexuality, drug use, and love on each track. Originally founded in 2002, the members are still together creating music for outcasts and “misfit toys.”

Finally, their long-awaited album is now here just when we needed it most. Notes on a Conditional Form immediately distinguishes itself both from The 1975’s past albums and other albums from this year. With a mix of techno, rock, and The 1975's own unique sound, the album soars with 22 stellar tracks, all giving fans a different feel with each listen. Don’t let the overwhelming number of tracks discourage you; there’s something here for everyone in The 1975’s best album to date.

A fresh sound

Unlike the band’s first two albums, Notes on a Conditional Form is a coherent message of “newness” in vocals, sound and form. This album is expressing a literal new sound and voice from the familiar band. The previous album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It was more drab, easily becoming background noise with each track. Nothing separated the album from its predecessor. 2020’s album plays to a different tune, a much-needed tune. The album goes from highs to lows both in everything from vocals and sound to the stories told in the songs.

Tracks like “The End (Music for Cars),” “Streaming,” and “Shiny Collarbone” make their own unique sound with either spoken word or techno music, which is something that may or may not attract traditional 1975 fans. The track “People” is the only outlier as the track’s sound is pure rock, which feels misplaced. “People” doesn’t sound like the band, and it shows. The 1975’s inclusiveness of genre is inviting but can also sometimes detract from the band’s original indie sound.

The story that needs to be told

There’s something to be said about the storytelling going on behind the sound. There’s a sense of youthfulness and longing for adventure and love behind most tracks. Tracks like “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” and “Playing on my Mind” both show this young and almost “high school- esque” vibe that we all can relate to. The line “Will I get divorced when I’m old?” from “Playing on my Mind” shows this hurt but wonder at what life might have in store for the singer. There’s no set path for us in life and this uncertainty of life creates a sense of fun and adventure, which is the message here.

Another line from “Playing on my Mind” that really resonates is “I think it’s strange that I still call you when I got nothing to say.” That line is so powerful both in writing and sound. The line is universal and fits with many other tracks in the album like “What Should I Say” and “Guys.” Healy has been more than clear about his sexuality, expressing his interest in both males and females. The line, “The moment that you took my hand was the best thing that ever happened, yeah,” from “Guys” is so beautiful and brave to be spoken aloud in prose. These lines alone express some hurt and some “feels” that Healy shares for others.

Religion in song

Listeners may find curiosity and questions after listening to “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” as the track very much sticks out from the rest of this album. The track expresses both Healy’s beliefs in God and his sexuality conflicting with religion. Musician Phoebe Bridgers lends her voice in the track talking about love for another woman that’s not reciprocated. The track is conflicting but powerful in message and expresses something many LGBTQ community members can relate to. The 1975 has always done an amazing job of making the LGBTQ community feel heard, and this is no exception. 

Top Tracks:

Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America

Yeah I Know


Recommended if you like:

The Neighbourhood

Arctic Monkeys

The Bleachers

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