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Review: Being Funny In A Foreign Language, the album fans have all been waiting for

Lucy Norris reviews The 1975's latest album...

A running joke of The 1975 is that all their songs sound the same and that nothing new will ever match their first two albums: the defining sound of the mid 2000’s new indie. Trying to break free of this mould, experimentation of the next two were subject to criticism with many fans longing for their old sound. Being Funny in A Foreign Language feels like a refreshing full circle. The new album is exiting and exploratory while still being rooted in their authentic sound.

In an interview with Zane Lowe, The 1975 frontman, Matty Healy, talks about surviving the test of time with criticism and confusion around how, as a band, they’re still relevant. As Lowe points out, it’s the band’s ability to ‘create and adapt … and reflect the times’ which makes them so unique. For anyone who falls in love with an album, it’s the certain sound and feelings connected to it so when that sound changes or breaks the expectation many fall out of touch with the artist. This new album came at a time where, for fans, it lay in the balance between sticking with the band or sticking with their old albums. With the expectation for another experimental album, Being Funny In A Foreign Language is significantly more tame, feeling like a cohesive piece of storytelling. To quote Healy, “it starts, and it ends, and it happens”. Healy describes their previous tour as “seeing Transformers at the Imax, but this album is like attending the theatre”. If we just compare the two opening tracks from this album and the last, The 1975 and People, the upbeat post-punk guitar starkly contrasts the opening keys of the new album. The band have returned to sampling LCD Soundsystem’s All My Friends and made this new The 1975 track sound exactly like an opening to a theatre production. When listening to the album for the first time this immediately caught my attention, and I knew then that this album was something to be excited about.

As with most popular songs now, the use of TikTok has definitely helped put The 1975 back into the spotlight with the song About You clipped all across the app. Ironically the clip is the only part which doesn’t feature Healy singing. As Healy states in behind the lyrics, the album is a sequel to Change Of Heart, the song a sequel to Robbers, which for many fans, is the reason they fell in love with the band. It’s this reminiscent quality across the whole album which revives the old sound of I Like It When You Sleep. Just like Tumblr was important for that album, TikTok will play just as an important role here. Only time will tell its full impact, but it has the potential to keep the album in the charts for longer than their previous which performed the worst out of the five, holding a spot for only 7 weeks - compared to A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships which stayed for 44. At times, the songs seem paradoxical with the band’s mixing of upbeat tempos alongside darker subjects such as school shootings in Looking For Somebody (To Love). These songs however seem to reach an understanding of how things in life are not always black and white. Returning to normality over the past few years, it’s unsurprising their sound settled here. With Jack Antonoff as producer, the band’s desire to experiment has reached the perfect point, creating this newly refreshed sound. After his success supporting Taylor Swift’s recent endeavours, Folklore and Evermore, the creativity this album harbours is unsurprising. Being Funny In A Foreign Language marks the new era for the band and if Notes On A Conditional Form and A Brief Inquiry weren’t for you, I’d definitely recommended giving this album a go.


Words: Lucy Norris


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