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Review: The 1975 exceeds expectations on ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’

Photo courtesy Dirty Hit

By Andrea Plascencia     10/18/22 10:36pm

Rating: ★★★★

Top Track: “About You” 

Long-time fans know the drill: previous posts are deleted and/or archived, and their Instagram sits blank — for a little while, at least. And then, on June 1 (coincidentally, the band’s anniversary), a picture surfaces on their social media accounts and there they are — our favorite British men (no, not the Beatles). It’s a new era for our old friends: The 1975.

Nearly two years after their 2020 release, “Notes on a Conditional Form,” the band is back and at their very best (or so they say — they’ve named their tour “The 1975 At Their Very Best”) with their highly anticipated fifth studio album, “Being Funny In a Foreign Language.” Released Oct. 14, the album is a sigh of relief for fans who love their 2013 debut, self-titled album a bit too much (me) and found “Notes” slightly disappointing (also me). 

“Being Funny in A Foreign Language,” comprised of 11 tracks, navigates themes such as post-modernism (because it wouldn’t be The 1975 if there wasn’t post-modernism), falling in love, school shootings, self-reflection and empathy. The album, though short, is consistent and reminiscent of former albums — with plenty of Easter eggs scattered throughout for fans to enjoy and potentially cry to. 

The air of reminiscence begins with the forever-anticipated introductory and recapitulatory track “The 1975.” The song, Matty Healy says, “is always our status update,” a four-minute account of the state of the world as the lead singer perceives and experiences it. In this album’s version of the track, Healy sympathizes with the teenagers of our current world, singing “I’m sorry if you’re living and you’re seventeen” and pokes fun at his former self, calling himself out for “makin’ an aesthetic out of not doin’ well.” 

The album’s lead single, “Part of The Band,” is a perfect glimpse into the band’s new era, in which Healy is unafraid to tell it like he sees it. He not only tells the stories of the soy milk drinkers and tote bag- wearers of the world, but demonstrates deep introspection about his own persona. He boldly alludes to the “cringes” of his past heroin addiction and concludes the song by asking himself if he’s “just some post-coke, average, skinny bloke, calling his ego imagination?” For someone who “always debases the sincerity” of his lyrics, it is refreshing to see this side of Healy — confessional and critical not just of society as a whole, but of himself, first and foremost. 

The following two tracks, “Oh Caroline” and “I’m In Love With You,” blend into each other perfectly, and are both on track to become fan favorites (if they aren’t already). The story lines in both are not particularly groundbreaking — it’s just Healy being in love — but the remarkable part is his lack of pretentiousness. He’s just saying what he feels — no post-modernism, no existentialism — purely love and a couple of songs that will surely unite crowds on tour. 

My personal favorite, “About You,” musically resembles one of The 1975’s most beloved songs, “Robbers,” and as a result, serves as a continuation of that story. Additionally, the opening lyric “I know a place” transports listeners to a track titled “The Birthday Party” from the “Notes” era, since Healy begins the track in a similar way. Overall, the song evokes an all-consuming nostalgia that transports listeners, especially us long-time fans, back to 2013, the era of Tumblr and Doc Martens. 

Overall, “Being Funny in A Foreign Language” lives up to expectations and gives fans who plan on attending their upcoming tour plenty to look forward to. Though nothing could ever surpass the masterpiece that is the band’s self-titled album, the new record exemplifies Healy’s healing: he is indeed capable of introspection and of empathy. And, of course, the album further proves that anything produced by Jack Antonoff is nothing short of perfection.

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