Esoteric English alt-pop darlings The 1975 have returned with their fifth studio album: Being Funny In A Foreign Language—a record about love, youth, and a damaged, but intact, hope for the future. And despite a more conventional approach to its creation, this is the Manchester group’s most surprising album yet.
The outfit’s previous record, Notes On A Conditional Form (2020), was a sprawling, 22-song odyssey that included everything from orchestral scores to country jams. Being Funny, on the other hand, marks a much more restrained, stripped-down take, on their signature sugar-pop aesthetic, with half the runtime and a more cohesive sound. While certain songs feel like an on-brand return to form, such as the disco-inspired “Happiness” or the sweeping anthem “Oh Caroline,” this album is as much a reinvention as a reinforcement.
For example, take the intro track “The 1975.” A version of this song is on every album, acting as an overture for the sonic landscape and emotional tone to come. And while there have been variations, such as Greta Thunberg’s inclusion on the 2020 version, none have so completely departed from convention as this one. Being Funny’s “The 1975” is so much more than an introduction. Rather, it feels like a desperately emotional invitation, welcoming listeners into the vulnerable, earnest exploration to come.
Being Funny’s sense of honesty is a change of pace for the often ironic, subversive frontman, Matty Healy. When tracing the lineage of The 1975’s progression over the years, it’s clear to see how they’ve arrived at this mature, down-to-earth sound.
Few contemporary pop groups have had the staying power of The 1975, and Being Funny In A Foreign Language shows us how they’ve managed to remain so relevant for a decade. Despite connecting with an immortal sense of youth, The 1975 continues to adapt, shapeshift, and grow alongside their audience—not for soundbites and trending audio, but for the love of being part of the band.