Since taking the name The 1975 in 2012, the quartet has been on a continuous run of dropping albums with each album representing a vast evolving artistic creation that’s completely transformed since their early years. During this time of the pandemic, The 1975 have released their fourth studio album ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’. Now with the members all in their early 30s, their latest album is the most mature, experimental and playful genre-bending of their career.
Having already teased their upcoming album with a monologue from climate change activist Greta Thunberg on their self-titled track “The 1975” along with the lead single “People” in 2019, it’s hard to believe that this is the same britpop band, for the song is extremely harsh and industrial punk. The latter tracks test other sounds like their lo-fi ambient house songs “Frail State Of Mind”, “The Birthday Party”, and “Yeah I Know”. Whereas, “The End (Music For Cars)”, “Streaming”, “Having No Head” and “Bagsy Not In Net,” which are all classical-instrumental fillers that feel whimsical and cinematic. The introduction to the latter, samples “Sailing” by 80s yacht rock icon, Christopher Cross and gives off a mellow vibe that frontman Matty Healy alludes to when describing the album’s overall sound as a “more intimate, nocturnal, cinematic record” and adds that it’s “very homely”. Songs like “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America” and “Playing On My Mind” featuring Phoebe Bridgers embody a wholesome folky James Taylor vibe, especially with Adam Hann playing the banjo. Even in the shoe-gazey track “Then Because She Goes”, Bridgers shadows behind Healy’s verses and harmonizes along. The 1975 switches gears in “Roadkill” that brings out a country vibe, whereas, “I Think There’s Something You Should Know” is a mellow tranquil track with electronic elements.
Halfway through the album, “Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied” sounds like it was inspired by Kanye West for its hip-hop, gospel tones and Healy making an effort to rap. Incorporating gospel isn’t something new for The 1975, as they’ve done so on their sophomore album ‘I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It’. Each song seems to be culturally different as well. “Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)” samples the classic Motown soul group The Temptations. The slow mind-thrilling “Shiny Collarbone” has reggae artist Cutty Ranks singing the entire track. Also, “What Should I Say” brings a reminiscent Akon-style with Healy’s vocals extremely altered and features FKA Twigs. The second to last song “Don’t Worry” is a personal song to Healy as his father Tim Healy duets with his son. It’s an original song from his father who he wrote for Matty’s mom after her depression.
The only few tracks that remotely sound like the trademark The 1975 are sweet romantic “Me & You Together Song”, the catchy upbeat “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” and “Guys”. The latter, the perfect cherishing friendship song to end the twenty-two track album ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’. Whether the album left listeners questioning or confused about the genre identity, The 1975 prove that they’re a band with no genre lines. They’re flexible and daring of breaking that indie boy-band pop mold. Love it or hate it--The 1975 are growing and changing as artists, which is a good thing.