1975, The - Being Funny in A Foreign Language

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Having experimented with their sound over the course of two albums, England's the 1975 settle down into a cozy and melodic vibe with 2022's Being Funny in a Foreign Language. Produced by lead singer Matthew Healy, with drummer George Daniel and Jack Antonoff, the album follows the companion releases of 2018's A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships and 2020's Notes on a Conditional Form. Those albums revealed the band's transformative knack for exploring a variety of styles, from lo-fi pop and Auto-Tuned R&B, to ever more avant-garde electronic soundscapes. In contrast, Being Funny is a relatively straight-forward production, nicely evoking the group's first two albums. In fact, if Being Funny had been the group's third release after 2016's I Like It When You Sleep, it would have made a lot of sense. These are immediately infectious songs built on shimmering guitar and keyboard riffs, several of which, including "Happiness" also feature saxophonist Zem Audu, whose bright sonic textures add to the bands jazzy, early-'80s adult contemporary pop vibe. Equally compelling are cuts like "Looking for Somebody to Love," "Part of the Band," and "Oh Caroline," all which pleasingly mesh the group's adopted Fleetwood Mac influence with the more dance-oriented post-punk style of their 2013 debut. There's also a sense that the band has gone through some tough times and maybe even had some therapy to deal with past trauma. It's a feeling of self-examination that Healy brings to "When We Are Together," admitting his toxic behavior in a relationship "I thought we were fighting but it seems I was 'gaslighting' you. I didn’t know that it had its own word." Other modern buzz words the band seem to have discovered pop up throughout the album as they reference "QAnon," "Getting Cucked," and "Canceled," themes that speak to Healy's ongoing hyper-awareness of contextualizing the band within the culture they are living through. On "Part of the Band," he even wonders, "Am I ironically woke? The butt of my joke?" It's an awareness that drives Being Funny from the start, as on the opening "The 1975," a song the band have continually reworked on each of their albums and which sets the tone for where their heads are at. Here, Healy offers sympathy to any of his teenage fans who find themselves growing up in what feel like increasingly troubled and divisive times. He also apologizes for his own infamously outspoken persona with the wry mea culpa "I’m sorry about my 20s I was learning the ropes, I had a tendency of thinking about it after I spoke." With Being Funny in a Foreign Language, Healy and the 1975 do seem to have matured, confidently jumping off the ropes and back into the center of the pop music ring.

Blue Transparent Vinyl

1 The 1975 4:10
2 Happiness 5:03
3 Looking for Somebody (To Love) 2:58
4 Part of the Band 4:20
5 Oh Caroline 3:32
6 I'm in Love With You 4:22
7 All I Need to Hear 3:30
8 Wintering 2:45
9 Human Too 3:44
10 About You 5:26
11 When We Are Together 3:36