The 1975: I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It | Virgin Media
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The 1975: I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of ItRating: ★★★☆☆ | by Ian Gittins

26/02/2016

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What a curious band The 1975 are. And what a sprawling, audacious, meandering, simultaneously fascinating and boring album this poetically titled record is.

Where to start? Anywhere you like. Following up their self-titled number one debut album of three years ago, The 1975 have valiantly embraced eclecticism to the degree that I Like It When You Sleep… frequently sounds like a Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation, most likely from circa 1985.

It is long, very long – 17 tracks – and yet rarely sounds stretched thin or lacking in ideas. One second you are nodding vigorous approval; the next, you are rolling your eyes and hitting the skip button. At times, you do both during the same track.

This is bubbly, slick, knowingly funky synth-pop

Ignore that misleading name; their default-setting music remains the kind of bubbly, slick, knowingly funky synth-pop that was absolutely de rigueur in the mid-1980s. Tracks such as Love Me or She’s American sound like mid-chart singles by China Crisis or Thompson Twins. Johnny Hates Jazz. Mike and the bloody Mechanics. Belouis Some.

And yet, and yet…

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When The 1975 shed their electro-pop shackles and go off-piste, which they frequently do, their subversive experimentation is a million miles from their reputation as a mildly antsy, attitudinal boyband. Take UGH!, a fruity, hyperactive jitter of a song in which cocksure frontman Matt Healy evaluates his relationship with cocaine.

Amidst the retro-pop and the solipsistic whimsy, a ferocious pop intelligence is at play. If I Believe You is acid gospel of the kind only Prince usually attempts, and it works. Lostmyhead is every bit as trippy and cartoon-psychedelic as its title would imply.

Listening is like rolling a dice. When a track ends you genuinely have no idea what is coming next. The title track is pattering ambient electro, The Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds rebooted for Harry Styles fans. The Ballad Of Me And My Brain could be Peter Gabriel-era Genesis echoing out of a K-hole.

It’s five stars and it’s one star (which makes it three stars). It’s crap, crass, cryptic and crystal-clear. It’s also a smorgasboard of an album of the kind that absolutely nobody makes nowadays, and for that – for all of their daft faults – we should applaud The 1975 fervently. Extraordinary.