I rated their debut so hugely that I was sceptical about whether The 1975 could pull off another record of equal weight or better; I am not fully certain that I could wax as lyrically about this follow-up, sadly. Granted, these guys are pioneers of cultivated, grossly honest lyrics, bold synths and deliriously scrumptious pop overlays. However, their self-titled first album packed more of a punch, with each infectious riff being something almost new and fresh, whereas these sorts of sugary hooks are a bit old hat now. Indeed, this is simply my opinion, but I don’t think this second helping could ever be tipped as a stronger album.
The singles have managed to largely irritate me, because they’ve had an unfortunate ‘budget’ vibe about them, with the instruments just presenting themselves as somewhat subpar. However, ‘The Sound’ is a really fun, upbeat offering, with a pumping chorus made that bit more enjoyable with the stabbing piano keys. This particular piece is full of character, and possesses a few similarities to some of the belters from the debut. ‘Ugh!’ is another smasher, with the jerks and bubbles of a typically ’80s melody pinning it all together. This is also a prime example of the raw transparency of the lyrics. Probably my favourite, though, with an almost identical synth template, is ‘She’s American’. This is a properly sizzling track, and would have lent itself well to a ’90s cult flick. Smart.
Despite some of the tougher hits, I reckon that the interlude-style songs are the best. ‘If I Believe You’ goes some way to bridging the gap between old-school numbers and soft instrumental compositions, with its tranquil harmonies and female, gospel backing vocals. The coarse riffs of ‘Lost My Head’ kick off the interlude motions well; these scouring, echoing musical portions crept in during elements of the last album, but are more regularly showcased here.
‘The Ballad of Me and My Brain’ is pretty slow, but piercing, which is fairly similar to what rolls into the humble ‘Somebody Else’. ‘This Must Be My Dream’ is another shoegazy number, with more emphasis akin to the bolder songs on the album, while ‘Paris’ is quaint, but shows off the weaker side of The 1975. So, although it has some fight in it, and certainly some quintessential vibrance, it just might not be as cool as it could have been.
If you only download one track, let it be: ‘She’s American’