The 1975 are champions of a particular niche of the internet. With quotable lyrics and dreamy synths, the four-man band provides the perfect soundtrack to an indie aesthetic characterized by angst and grunge popular on Tumblr during the mid-2010s.
Today, the generation who grew up on their music is entering adulthood, and The 1975 has returned with their fifth studio album, “Being Funny in a Foreign Language,” aiding the “2014-Tumblr” era’s infamous 2022 resurgence on social media and in the fashionscene. The album features producing from Jack Antonoff, lead singer of the band Bleachers.
While The 1975 ventured into a more experimental and existential sound with its 2020 release “Notes on a Conditional Form,” “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” embraces the essence of what made the band popular in the first place.
The album feels like it is in constant conversation with the band’s previous records. “I’m in Love With You,” a catchy and sincere pop-rock tune, is sonically similar to the band’s signature upbeat tracks, such as “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not with You).” Plus, the new song’s music video — which features a cameo from Phoebe Bridgers — is a continuation of the story of the clown featured in the band’s “A Change of Heart” music video. “About You,” the album’s sadder tune, has been confirmed by frontman Matty Healy to expand on the story of the toxic lovers from “Robbers” — a song that arguably put The 1975 on the map.
That’s not to say that these qualities make the album unoriginal. Sure, The 1975 might be leaving behind some of the grandness that Healy proudly champions in the band's other work, but they still deliver a simple and great record.
Familiar synths and catchy hooks blend masterfully with the nostalgia of the album, capturing the familiar ethereal sound that sets the band apart. The album also explores themes of love and heartbreak in a way that’s fantastical and bittersweet, allowing the band to resonate more effectively with the millennial and Gen Z fans who have followed the band from their start.
The addition of Jack Antonoff — the mastermind behind some of pop's acclaimed recent records — perfectly advances the band’s unique sound and adds a newfound charm. Antonoff, in his first collaboration with the band, is credited as a producer on every song in the album.
It’s undeniable that Antonoff knows how to produce a masterful record that draws in audiences from the first listen. His touch on The 1975’s sound brings a certain optimism. His influence is clearly seen in songs like “Oh Caroline,” which heavily rely on a chorus of guitars reminiscent of Antonoff’s own work in his bands, Bleachers and Fun.
Lyrically, the album still carries the same extravagant, nonsensical, explicitly sexual and unsettling lyrics that have long been a hallmark of The 1975. The same classically millennial views on the shallow nature of internet relationships and counterculture are certainly still there. Lead singer Heally critiques these sentiments with lyrics in “Part of a Band,” for example: “I know some Vaccinista tote bag chic baristas / Setting east of their communista keisters.”
Still, what saves “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” from turning into a painful agglomeration of shallow critiques of internet culture and phallic references is that the album does not take itself too seriously. Obnoxious lyrics like “Fuck you, Muppet” or “I like my men how like my coffee / Full of soy milk and so sweet, it won’t offend anyone” are delivered in a chipper non-serious tone.
It might come as a surprise to The 1975 skeptics, but “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” does not have many flaws. It delivers indie pop at its best with a hint of nostalgia that strikes an even bigger chord with those who grew up in the era marked by their music. Now, it remains to be seen if The 1975 will use the nostalgia factor to their benefit, return to a more experimental sound or continue to pull from their own material for content.