The 1975 are the biggest band in the world right now. Hitting the top spot on both sides of the Atlantic does that for you. Thankfully, ‘I like it when you sleep…’ is a fitting album for such a position. The band have had visions of grandeur, leading to a seventeen track long album of epic proportions. Only they could have the audacity to come up with that title and then fill the album with lengthy instrumentals.
When they do get going, though, it results in some almighty pop. Yes, pop. The band may have their roots in rock, but this is music that funks, struts, stomps, squelches and wobbles – an exhilaratingly weird mix of sounds all underpinned by a solid pop foundation. The Sound feels more like Daft Punk than anything the band have done before, with its vibrant synths, house piano and that middle eight breakdown and guitar solo. Love Me twists and distorts their sound into something that's part Peter Gabriel part Prince. The staccato UGH! is all choppy rhythms and stabs of brilliance. And She’s American is characterised by dry snare snaps that literally pop into your ears, 80s style.
The band may have reached their current status off the back of these bombastic pop anthems, but the album itself succeeds for its softer side and honesty. For the most part ‘I like it when you sleep…’ is full of youthful ambience, placing teen angst in a heightened dreamlike fantasy, something This Must Be My Dream takes literally before lurching into its saxophone solo. Lyrically the album takes us from brutal frankness (“You look like shit and you smell a bit” – A Change Of Heart), through to weepy sentimentality (“Made in my room, this simple tune will always keep me close to you” – Nana). Somewhere in between is the plain rawness of Somebody Else, the album’s major highlight. “I don’t want your body but I hate to think about you with somebody else”, sings Matt Healy with hushed fragility. Even the instrumentals add to the dreamy, pensive feel of the album – the distant longing of Please Be Naked, or the gentle ambience of the title track.
‘I like it when you sleep…’, then, is an album that pulls in every direction, with striking and infectious rhythms, tightly constructed hooks, and a consistent, ethereal soundworld that borders on hypnotic. Above all, though, there’s genuine depth of feeling that proves The 1975 know how to create intelligent pop music. That’s what makes this the most exciting album of the year so far. That’s what makes them the biggest band in the world.
* She’s American
* Somebody Else
* The Sound
Listen: ‘I like it when you sleep…’ is out now.