The 1975 typically return in brash, antagonistic style. 2020 album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ was launched with the bratty punk thrash of ‘People’. We were introduced to ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ with the posi-pop swell of ‘Give Yourself A Try’ and the ‘I Like It When You Sleep…’ era began in 2015 with the tongue-in-cheek arrogance of ‘Love Me’.
It’s all change for ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’, though. Not only is The 1975’s upcoming fifth album their shortest yet (featuring just 11 songs), but this new chapter also begins with the relative calm of ‘Part Of The Band’, co-produced by Jack Antonoff.
Picking up where ‘Notes’ left off, the new song takes the midwestern emo of ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’ and blends it with the dreamy synths of ‘The Birthday Party’ with a touch of the communal optimism found on Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’ thrown in for good measure. These influences are just passing glances, though, as The 1975 continue to reinvent themselves and carve their own path forward.
Lyrically, the track finds vocalist Matty Healy reflecting on the past (“I was living my best life / Way before the paying penance/ And my cancellation”) and raking over old relationships with a newfound precision before turning the lens on himself.
On ‘Part Of The Band’, Healy wrestles with his role as an outspoken, political mouthpiece for a generation (”Enough about me now / You gotta talk about the people, baby“) and questions if he’s “ironically woke [or] the butt of my joke?” It’s an intense tangled stream-of-consciousness with no answers to be found and no actual chorus to speak of – but still, there’s a giddy freedom to that gut-led recklessness
In fact, there’s a fearlessness across ‘Part Of The Band’ that sees The 1975 unafraid to rip up their own rule book. It’s been a long two years since the band last released an album and, in that time, we’ve had urgent acts like Yard Act and Sam Fender blend the political with the personal while the likes of Wet Leg have indulged in the brilliantly surreal. A less self-assured band might return with something more direct and instant in an attempt to reclaim their throne but The 1975 have never been interested in past glories.
If ‘Part Of The Band’ is anything to go by, Healy and co. are clearly confident in their stature as one of the most provocative yet revered groups going, and are content doing their own thing. Will ‘Part Of The Band’ be divisive? Yes. Do they care? Probably not.
As for the rest of ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’: the only thing ‘Part Of The Band’ tells us is that there’s unlikely to be another dreamy, emo number on the record as The 1975 continue to shock, surprise and shake things up.