The members of The 1975 met at Wilmslow High School in their teens, playing at gigs organised by a local council worker. They started as a punk band, with Matt Healy, the son of two prominent actors, on drums. With the addition of George Daniel, Healy moved to lead vocals, and the band built their career with a series of EPs.
Matt Healy’s underrated as a vocalist – his malleable and expressive voice allows the band to tackle a range of genres, from gospel to punk. He’s a razor-sharp lyricist – songs like ‘Love It If We Made It’, with its lines about how “modernity has failed us”, make him a spokesman for a disaffected generation. The 1975 are clearly dedicated music fans – touchstones for their latest record include Lou Reed’s Street Hassle, Paul Simon’s Graceland, and LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver.
The 1975’s quirks are adorable – every album begins with an introductory track titled ‘The 1975’, and they have the most pretentious portfolio of album titles in popular music – the band set the record for the longest title for a Billboard #1 album with 2016’s I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It. Most importantly, they’ve been able to balance mass popularity – all of their albums to date have topped the UK charts – with making consistently interesting music.
The 1975 recently released the succinct and accessible Being Funny in a Foreign Language. Here are their five studio albums to date, ranked from worst to best. Worst is a relative term – all five of The 1975’s albums released to date are strong.
The 1975: Albums Ranked from Worst to Best
#5 The 1975
The band’s self-titled debut is one-dimensional in comparison with the eclectic road they’ve travelled since. There’s the odd foray into ephemera, like the 1980s synth-pop of ‘Heart Out’ and the delicate closer ‘Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You’. But most of the notable songs are in the same style – funky pop/rock like ‘The City’, ‘Chocolate’, and ‘Girls’, echoing INXS. But it’s a solid debut, paving the way for a string of impressive and top-selling outings.
#4 A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
Due to its more digestible length (less than an hour!), A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships enjoyed more critical acclaim than much of the band’s work. Despite the shorter length, it’s more uneven than usual. Take away the sublime singles like ‘Love It If We Made It’, ‘Sincerity is Scary’, and ‘TooTimeTooTimeTooTime’, and the deep cuts are less impressive than we’ve come to expect from The 1975. Healy’s monologue on ‘The Man Who Married a Robot’ doesn’t hold up to repeated listens.
#3 Being Funny in a Foreign Language
The 1975’s fifth album is their most tightly constructed, with only 11 tracks and a succinct running time. Being Funny abandons The 1975’s usual eclecticism to focus on a sophisticated, 1980s-tinged sound, with assistance from ubiquitous producer Jack Antonoff. Despite the shorter tracklist, there’s plenty to impress. Healy’s lyrics have never been more fascinating. “I like my men like I like my coffee/Full of soy milk and so sweet, it won’t offend anybody” is a great line from the lead single, ‘Part of the Band’. Healy’s deeper vocal register on the record is gorgeous, and their mellow songs like ‘Wintering’ and ‘Human Too’ have never been so stripped-back and vulnerable.
#2 Notes on a Conditional Form
The band’s fifth album follows the precedent of 2016’s I Like It When You Sleep… – a sprawling 80-minute record that covers an astounding amount of musical ground. If anything it’s more diverse, ranging from the screamo punk of ‘People’, the Temptations sampling on ‘Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)’, the shoegaze of ‘Then Because She Goes’, to the acoustic country of ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’. It takes some patience, but there’s an embarrassment of riches on Notes on a Conditional Form.
#1 I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It
The 1975’s first album was impressive, but their second set the tone for their career, a sprawling and ambitious collection of songs. It reaches high, but almost invariably hits its targets – the graceful resignation of ‘Somebody Else’, the stadium anthem of ‘The Sound’, and the questioning of ‘If I Believe You’ cover a lot of emotional ground. I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It is the crowning achievement in an impressive career.
What’s your favourite album by The 1975?
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