The 1975’s Being Funny In a Foreign Language is not funny at all


Promotional Material Courtesy of Dirty Hit

Lead singer Matthew Healy poses on a chalk-covered car.

It’s unclear whether English pop-rock band, The 1975, is famous for their Twitter disputes or their eclectic exploration and timely transcendence of various genres. Their discography is diverse, with snippets of indie pop, R&B/soul, and electronic music, proof they have grown and changed through the years. The 1975’s newest album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language, (label: Dirty Hit) may seem superficially romance-centered and pop focused, but it boasts their most mature sound yet. It’s shocking how many emotions the album evokes, as it ranges from awe-inspiring to award-deserving with layer upon layer of excellence.

The 1975 is hardly new to music production, yet their fifth studio album rises above any of their previous releases. Short and sweet with a 43 minute and 26 second run time, every song of the album is jam-packed with infuriatingly good hooks, live instrumentals, and high-quality production. Perhaps the best element of the release is the individuality of the array of songs.

Teased since February, Being Funny has been in the works since the cancellation of the band’s 2021 tour. The pandemic may have set back their ability to play live, but it gave them the time and space they needed to produce their album in an unadulterated way. In coordination with famous producer Jack Antonoff, they focused on their true sonic identity and the importance of live instrumentals in their music.

A far cry from their 2013 album titled The 1975, Being Funny returns to their initial sound, a divergence from their prior album. From the album cover to the genre of music, and even members’ individual haircuts, The 1975 has changed remarkably. Now starkly different from their iconic leather jackets and undercuts, the band grew up and grew out their hair, yet their raw musical undertones focusing on romanticism and reality remain. The album grows increasingly heavy with each listen as the prickliness of Healy’s lyricism fully sets in.

Lead singer Matt Healy is just as unfeigned as he was a decade back. Audiences know the cynical singer for his occasional outlandish statements and controversial tweets, and his lyrics are no different. Identical to previous albums, the opening track is titled “The 1975.” Piano riffs, a pumping beat, and heartfelt saxophone solos soothe the listener while building the song in coordination with the growing intensity of his vocals. Healy talks about the horrifying aspects of being young today, mentioning adderall, aperol, and vitriol just in the pre-chorus. Somehow, he seamlessly ties political talk with jokes about his tendencies as a twenty-something, all while leading an impressively complex melody.

 The intro to “Happiness,” second on the track list and released as a single Aug. 3, is ironically similar to Lizzo’s hit “About Damn Time.” Faint background conversation quickly joins the lively beat and intense saxophone, a craftful transition from the decompression in track one. While the uptempo rhythm continues, Healy’s pessimistic lyrics are utterly devoid of optimism. Healy’s pleas to be shown love through the jazzy instrumentals conceal the nature of slight misery beneath.

Once again, saxophone transports the viewer to the next tune, “Looking For Somebody (To Love),” which is more upbeat. It’s impossible not to adore this track’s catchy beat, exciting verses, and tasteful production. Pulsing synthesizer underlines the references to violence and mass shootings, not immediately noticeable but dark nonetheless, and another example of contrasting sound and lyricism.

Chorus-less single “Part of the Band” (released July 7) is an instant classic and a brain-scratching transition from a chaotic symphony to a cleaner rhythm. Through deceptive writing, Healy describes his relationship with himself throughout the years while adding in woodwinds instruments and an addictive beat. “Am I ironically woke? The butt of my joke? / Or am I just some post-coke, average, skinny bloke.” His brutally honest view on fame and the music industry adds to the refreshing reality of the album. 

Just a few seconds later, the lyrics, “I like my men like I like my coffee / Full of soy milk and so sweet it won’t offend anybody whilst staining the pages of the nation,” subtly point out the absurdities of patriarchy. It isn’t the first controversial insinuation on the album nor last, as these are scattered throughout Being Funny. The witty lyrics add depth for the listener, clever lines to catch that aren’t obvious on a first listen.

Track five, “Oh Caroline,” is the sweetest of the album, with tinny piano stoking refreshing elation in the midst of sorrowful songs. It is also the grooviest, with a slower tempo and hopeful lyrics discussing a promising second attempt at a relationship. The woodwinds fade out eventually and into a new, more upbeat track. Hit single, “I’m In Love With You,” (released Sept. 1) is less unique, with repetition thoughtfully incorporated to reinforce the meaning of the chorus. However, the sweet nature of the song has earned it over 18 million listens on Spotify, the most successful track off of the album so far. The upbeat streak ends with “All I Need To Hear,” Slow in tempo and mournful in writing, Healy begs for affirmation from a lover, singing, “I don’t need the crowds and the cheers / Oh, just tell me you love me / ‘Cause that’s all that I need to hear.”

“Wintering” starts off slow, a stark difference from the catchy tempo of “I’m In Love With You.” The tempo slowly builds as Healy sings about holidays and spending time with family while ignoring argument-inducing generational divides. He delves further into discussing humanity in “Human Too.” Healy lays himself bare, exposing his fragility while reminding himself and the listener that he is solely human. repeating, Even though it is yet another slow track, the acoustic ballad’s instrumentals contrasting the others refreshingly.

Track 10, “About You,” has an energetic and orchestral intro that almost perfectly replicates “Heroes” by David Bowie. Bowie’s optimism-pumped melody, however, couldn’t be further from Healy’s mournful piece. He grieves the loss of a relationship and the crushing desire to be with an ex-partner again. “About You” is a cleaner successor to their 2013 hit track “Robbers,” which has the same gothic reverb despite lacking the saxophone. The melody is haunting and catchy, beautifully backed up by the vocals of his wife, Carly Holt, in the last verse. “There was something about you that now I can’t remember / It’s the same damn thing that made my heart surrender.” It’s moody and deep, dark and enchanting to listen to, and by far the best track on the album.

As the saxophone fades from the previous five-minute ballad, “When We are Together,” opens with a campfire melody. The end track is just as beautiful as the rest of the album. It ties a ribbon on the gift that is Being Funny, a folk-inspired acoustic number that grants the listener closure. Ironically, Healy sings about anything but closure in the song. He reflects on a past relationship that ended in rain with the lyrics, “I thought we were fightin’ / but it seems I was gaslightin’ you / I didn’t know that it had its own word.” The abrupt ending is just as confusing, tied up with references to cows, sweaters, and the idea that they were better together. It’s a reflection of the honesty throughout the album, a representation of how Healy incorporates his ups and downs into the music.

The 1975’s realism and reality check of an album may be the best of the year. There isn’t one poorly-produced aspect of the album, only crisp melodies and eloquent writing to match the array of moods it depicts. It touches on controversial and emotional subjects subtly, and it’s bound to sound incredible live on their upcoming tour, “The 1975 At Their Very Best.”  It’s truthful, honest, beautifully-produced and unique. Being Funny is a complete masterpiece, and as The 1975’s best album it earns a five out of five feathers.