The Mature and Renewed Spirit of The 1975’s Being Funny in a Foreign Language

The Manchester quartet return with earnestness, wisdom, and, of course, jokes

Being Funny in a Foreign Language Album Review

Matty Healy is done with kidding himself. He lets us know from track one of The 1975‘s fifth album Being Funny in a Foreign Language (out Friday, October 14th), titled — wait for it: “The 1975.”

“We’re experiencing life through the postmodern lens,” sings Healy, before immediately invalidating his own claim with, “Oh, call it like it is!/ You’re making an aesthetic out of not doing well/ and mining all the bits of you you think you can sell.”

The enigmatic 1975 frontman has never, ever been shy when it comes to the commentary in his lyrics, embracing the absurdity of our age with a vocabulary that few others have the courage to depict. But there’s a fascinating tension that Healy feels between reflecting the nihilism of our times and pointing the finger back at himself. He even references this tension on Being Funny…‘s lead single, “Part of the Band,” crooning: “Enough about me now/ You gotta talk about the people, baby.”

For a great deal of The 1975’s catalog after their 2013 self-titled debut, those two opposing approaches were inseparable — for every “Love It If We Made It,” there’s a “Sincerity Is Scary,” an anxious self-correction that finds Healy begging us not to take him too seriously, all before giving us many reasons to take him extremely seriously.

Of course, Healy and the band — which is rounded out by producer and drummer George Daniel, guitarist Adam Hahn, and bassist Ross MacDonald — know that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Their last three albums have actively doubled down on their unique voice within the pop and alternative rock worlds, becoming triumphant and personal explorations of what it means to be A Big Pop Band in such a noisy landscape.

For their fifth album, the band is less interested in conducting the soundtrack to the apocalypse and much more engaged in the quieting grey area of their previous effort, 2020’s Notes on a Conditional Form. There are a handful of smaller, focused folk tracks, fluttering arrangements and orchestral flourishes, and more acoustic guitar than any other The 1975 album.


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