The 1975’s new album, Notes on a Conditional Form, is alluring and chaotic.
Over the course of the album, the band has taken inspiration from many genres including; alternative country, U.K. electronic and garage house, Jamaican dance hall, jazz, and classical.
The album as a whole is noticeably less cohesive than their previous works. When first listening to the album, it was a bit of a shock to the system. Being a long time fan I was expecting and hoping for that distinct The 1975 sound and the feeling that comes along with that.
However, this album has taken an interesting turn that took risks. The band then combined those risks with the sound of their early EPs, such as Facedown, Sex, Music For Cars, and IV. After listening to the album a couple of times over and getting accustomed to the new direction they’ve taken, I love the album more with each listen as it feels more familiar and reminiscent of their early work.
Frontman Matty Healy described the album as a “more intimate, nocturnal, and cinematic” record then A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships during his interview with NME.
Healy also says that the album “is very homely, it’s a lot about home, it’s a lot about mental health, it’s a lot about domesticity.”
The opening self-titled song was no surprise, as each album has it’s own version of the song. Like the album as a whole, compared to their previous work, this one is a bit different from the rest. The track starts with a minimal piano track, then comes in 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg as she delivers a monologue;
“We are right now in the beginning of a climate and ecological crisis. And we need to call it what it is. An emergency,” she says. “We must acknowledge that we do not have the situation under control and that we don’t have all the solutions yet. Unless those solutions mean that we simply stop doing certain things.”
Following the driving speech is “People,” the hard-core inspired track and leading single. The song is a wake-up call for people to act against the world’s issues including climate change and conservatism.
“The End (Music For Cars)” is a new orchestral version of the song “HNSCC” from the bands 2013 EP, Music For Cars. It is beautifully cinematic and sounds like it could be straight out of a Pixar film.
“Frail State of Mind” refers to social anxiety and how it affects various aspects of ones life. The track features the late trumpeter Roy Hargrove who sadly passed away in November 2018. Hargrove is also featured on other The 1975 songs such as “Sincerity is Scary,” “Mine” and “If I Believe You.”
“The Birthday Party” is a dream-like track that has a bit of a country-twang. The track centers around Healy’s struggles with addiction and how vital the people are around him are to keep him accountable.
“Now I’m clean it would seem, let’s go somewhere I’ll be seen // I depend on my friends to stay clean as sad as it seems.”
Phoebe Bridges is featured on the acoustic song, “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America.” The song was originally two songs with the same piece of music. One version was about Christian America and its oppression on young gay people. The other version was about the prison industrial complex; having a for-profit prison system. After a while, Healy then chose his favorite lines from each and combined them into one song.
“Roadkill” takes inspiration from bands like Pinegrove, a band mentioned in their song “The Birthday Party.” The song is about being on tour. Healy says that this song is one of the funniest songs he’s ever written with lyrics like;
“Well, I pissed myself on a Texan intersection with George spilling things all over his bag And I took shit for being quiet during the election and maybe that’s fair but I’m a busy guy.”
Drawing from the sound of their earlier work, “Me and you Together Song” has a similar sound to their self-titled album with bouncy drums and treble-heavy guitar influence. The music video is very nostalgic, taking inspiration from the early 2000s.
Similarly, “I Think There’s Something You Should Know” feels like it could be straight off one of the bands early EPs. It’s very nostalgic for long time fans. The song explores mental health struggles and imposter syndrome.
London Community Gospel Choir is featured in “Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied.” The song also features a sample The 1975’s own song “If I Believe You” as well as references to “Heart Out” from their self-titled album.
“You can’t figure out a heart you were lying.”
One of the most stand out tracks on the album is”Tonight (I Wish I was Your Boy.)” The song starts with a sample of The Temptations hit “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me.)” Healy describes the track as “an early Kanye West meets late Backstreet Boys.”
“If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” is a return to their 80s pop sound from the I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it era. It is a mix of many ideas the band had for songs all morphed together. The song also features a sax solo from saxophonist John Waugh.
“Don’t Worry” is a very sweet and beautiful song written by Matty’s Dad, actor Tim Healy. He sang Healy the song when he was a child, who then decided to put it on the album. Healy also sings along with his Dad on the endearing track.
The closing song on the album, “Guys,” is delightful, lighthearted, and wholesome. It’s the band members’ love song to each other. As they’ve been a band together for many years now, in the song they look back fondly at all of their memories together.
“You guys are the best thing that ever happened to me.”
It’s the last song Healy wrote for the album and the perfect ending track for the album.
Seven years since their debut album, The 1975 are still trying out new sounds, disregarding genre, reinventing themselves. The band is truly releasing the music they want to release without outside influence getting in the way. They stick to their instincts and make music that people really connect with and cherish in such a wonderful and beautiful way.
Notes on a Conditional Form is now available physically and on all major streaming platforms.