The 1975, an English pop rock group, released their fourth studio album “Notes On A Conditional Form” on May 22. The record is 22 songs in total. This album presents their most raw and vulnerable emotions as it is their honest views on their lives.
The album opens with a spoken word piece by teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg titled “The 1975.” In this piece she is calling for a change, and focusing on topics like climate change and how if we don’t revert our actions there will be negative implications for our world.
Following this is “People,” a rebellious track calling for the world to “wake up.” This song is a cry for society to listen to the people. They’re yelling their views, and they want to be heard. “People like people. They want alive people. The young surprise people.”
The 1975 have, throughout all of their albums, put beats between their songs, and this album is no different. After “People,” there is an interlude titled “The End (Music For Cars).” With some of their interludes it leads into the opening of the next song, but this one doesn’t. There’s another interlude shortly after titled “Streaming.” “Having No Head” is the last instrumental in the album.
“Yeah I Know” has a more electronic feel than the previous two songs. While the song lyrics are a bit repetitive, when you’re listening to it, you don’t really notice. Some of them are incomprehensible, but it’s actually another verse, “time feels like it’s changed, I don’t feel the same,” backwards.
Directly after that they go into a song that sounds completely different. Listening to “Then Because She Goes” the first time took me back because it’s a completely different genre. This song is about leaving your significant other, but not permanently, and the hardships that come with it. However, the track doesn’t sound sad, it’s upbeat.
The 1975 go from electronic, to indie pop, to country/folk in three songs. “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America,” is a folk song with Phoebe Bridgers. This song features a tale of Bridgers falling in love with a girl and not being able to confess her feelings. This song is about defeat, and accepting that.
Continuing the feeling of folk, the song “Roadkill,” has a happy catchy feeling, while the lyrics echo something much deeper. They recall a line from one of their older songs “if you don’t shoot then you never know,” off of “Robbers.” However, this song talks a lot about how they are tired of mindlessly hooking up with people due to their fame.
“Me & You Together Song” features Matty Healy, the band’s lead singer, singing about how he’s been in love with his friend for a while, but she doesn’t know. This song sounds like it could come off one of their earlier albums with the way it’s produced. Following this song is “I Think There’s Something You Should Know,” a mellower track about not feeling like yourself, feelings of “imposter syndrome” from self isolation. Lyrics like “I’d like to meet myself” show that Healy is having a hard time with his self image.
This album takes a turn with “Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied.” This has a lo-fi, hip-hop beat at some points while also feeling choral, due to the piano and chorus. Healy reveals in this song that not all his lyrics are true, causing his “life to feel like a lie.”
“Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)” has a more 90’s pop feel to it. This song samples The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” and Hiroshi Satoh’s “Say Goodbye.” This song shows Healy wanting to be with someone, but he believes he’s messed up his chance.
“Shiny Collarbone” is another collaboration, this time with Cutty Ranks. This is purely house music. Ranks is providing the only vocals, over beats that are chopped and fractured.
The 1975 bring up societal issues with sex workers in “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know).” In this track, Healy talks about his infatuation with a girl online. Different forms of intimacy are discussed in this track – the real world versus online. It has a modern 80’s music feel, featuring lots of horn and guitar. FKA Twigs provides backup vocals to this song.
“Playing On My Mind” is a deep dive into Healy’s thoughts. The singer provides the audience with all of the thoughts he has throughout his life, mainly circling around relationships. Questioning himself as to why he is looking online for a relationship. “I won’t get clothes online ’cause I get worried about the fit / That rule don’t apply concerning my relationships.”
“What Should I Say” is another house song on the album. Featuring Healy’s vocals pitched down over an electronic beat. FKA Twigs sings a ghostly backup on this track. Following this track is a shorter song, “Bagsy Not In Net.” This is a darker song than the rest of the album, with Healy talking about leaving this world with his partner.
With just piano backing their vocals, Healy sings “Don’t Worry” with his father, Tim Healy. Tim Healy wrote this song for his wife when she was dealing with postnatal depression.
The final song on the album is a tribute to the members. It’s a love song to Healy’s bandmates. “Guys” shows the raw emotion that he has for them. “The moment that we started a band, was the best thing that ever happened.” It’s not very often we see love songs written for friends, but Healy goes against that, stating that this is the best thing to ever happen in his life.
This is a good followup to their last album “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships.” Many themes that were presented in that album are also featured in this one. This album covers the inevitable collapse of our environment, personal struggles, relationship catastrophes, and love in many different forms.
While I did enjoy this album, it feels a little disjointed with how many different genres are covered. I don’t think it is an album I would listen to straight through again, partly due to the interludes, but I did add the songs separately to playlists that have the same genres.