Let me start by saying I like The 1975. I’ll hold my hands up and maybe even call myself a fan. I think their music is interesting, always balancing bangers and more considered album tracks nicely with the bravery to experiment; something which a lot of big indie bands seem to become too scared to do. Their latest album A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationship, considered to be the twin for this new release, was one of my top albums for 2019 so Notes On A Conditional Form has been a highly anticipated release for me. The below is my first listen thoughts, written in the moment and transcribed word for word from my notebook as I listened from start to finish.

  • Opening with Greta is interesting. Sacrificing their long-running tradition of the same The 1975 opener for a speech is nice, forces you to pause but I imagine it’ll sadly be skipped a lot.
  • Cinematic backing – reminiscent of Online Relationships – I like the bands dedication to recycling words and melodies, creates a nice sense of tradition and growth.
  • The final call the rebel flows perfectly and dramatically into the screaming people
  • Biased as I’ve never warmed to People, it feels lazy to me
    • Lacks the thought/intellect of their previous more protest tracks
    • Heaviness feels distracting? Angry counterpart to love me??
  • Following people with an orchestral interlude feels like a waste of energy? Or could be a pause for reflection.
  • Reaching Frail State Of Mind feels soothing – really recognisable The 1975 song that feels like it would’ve fit perfectly on their last album with it’s catching beat and dreamlike vocals.
  • Right, there’s no denying that their instrumentals are great. You can even find fans who’s favourite track is an instrumental, but you can see why it would get annoying for outsiders as I’ve so far listened to 2 songs yet 3 instrumentals.
  • It’s really off-putting going up and down from actual songs into instrumentals, feel like you can’t settle into a vibe as it’s like heavy one second then suddenly violins.
  • Lacks the continuity of other albums. Like the instrumentals on I Like It When you Sleep matched the tracks and all matched one another but here they feel disjointed as some are orchestral but then Yeah I Know launches into something more electronic.
  • Did they roll out too many singles? Feel like I’m constantly wading between these tracks I already know.
  • Oohhh pulled it back here with Then Because She Goes. Feels authentic and legit
    • This song feels written in a notepad rather than made, throws back to old fan favourites of Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You.
  • But yet again! Weird song jump making me wonder again if I’ve accidentally shuffled.
  • Breaking the song/instrumental/song/instrumental formula here with Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America feels weird, places it in the instrumental/filler position which it definitely doesn’t deserve.
  • It’s as if they couldn’t make up their mind between vibes.
    • Pieces of all other albums chucked together – guess it means there’s something for everyone to like but makes the flow from start to finish feel incohesive.
  • The start of each new song feels jarring, like each is a new style, but you settle in.
    • None are unlikeable, just throws you from vibe to vibe – I’ll probably feel different when I can just listen to my favourite tracks
  • Roadkill is great but the sudden twangy Americana throws me
  • I feel like I’m always swimming towards a previously released single – so far these definitely feel like the life raft of the album
  • With each album are they managing less and less bangers? Missing the days of Chocolate/Sex/Robbers/The City all being on one record
The 1975 live
Photography by Hope Naisbitt
  • Moment of real glory here with the choir on Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied
  • Oh but now he’s rapping?
  • Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy) is vibey
    • Feels like they’ve settled in here, or maybe like we’re suddenly dropped into a new album
    • Exhausted by the thought of the comments I’m going to be making – ‘no honest it gets better in the second half’
  • No surprises that there’s a high point at If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know) – Outrageous banger
    • Feels comfortable and happy like they find a home back in the first album, full band vibes.
    • I always want to hear saxophones. The 1975 should always have saxophones.
  • Yeah they’ve put all the big ones in the second have.
  • Playing On My Mind – ‘Will I live and die in a band’ – Beautiful lyric and I love this song but suddenly I’m thinking back to Greta at the start and wondering where that message went?
  • But Playing On My Mind is lovely – Matty Healy’s DIY vibe acoustic tracks are always lovely, and this is reminiscent of the best of them like She Lays Down and Be My Mistake.
  • The instrumental that follows is the only one that feels right
    • Having No Head feels like it summarises the album following from the gentle intro into the orchestra into the electronic vibes – Nicely summarising
  • Album should’ve stopped here
  • What Should I Say – do we need another track about everyone hating Matty Healy and Matty Healy not caring…
  • Don’t Worry is super sweet, googled and his Dad wrote it when he was a child, so that’s lovely. BUT – the techy overlays and distortions become distracting, would’ve been nice to have a track that was fully stripped and just wholesome
    • Get the sense that Matty thought that a stripped version of this lullaby wouldn’t be ‘cool enough’?
  • Made it to the end, this is so long
  • Guys is great, really lovely and conclusive and it’s nice seeing a more human side of the band with this little insight into their relationship. But god what a trek to get here
  • The spin back round to the twinkling into it really nicely done – feels complete in form but in terms of substance, I’m unsure.
  • Typing these notes up I feel like I couldn’t tell you want any song other than the singles sounds like, there are definite memorable tracks and I’m already aware of how much song skipping is going to be required to sift through the instrumentals to get to the vocal tracks as my overwhelming short term memory of the album was that it was split almost 50/50 between instrumentals and songs with no single, overarching vibe to string them together?
  • I’m hoping it’s a grower.
Photography by Hope Naisbitt

In Conclusion:

I know I will like this album. I know it’s tracks will be added to my playlist and I’ll learn to sing along to their lyrics, but I also know I’ll likely be skipping half of the album on every listen. I think we can already tell which tracks will go on to be remembered as the best, certain that If You’re Too Shy will stay on the band’s setlist forever and probably be remembered long beyond when they stop playing, but I feel like I can’t say the same about the rest of the track. Which is okay! I know the purpose of music goes far beyond the creation of bangers, but I wish Notes On A Conditional Form had continued on with the same cinematic underbelly that makes A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships and I Like It When You Sleep As You Are So Beautiful But So Unaware Of It so great. This new album lacks the aesthetic of its predecessors like it’s playing twister with vibes and genres, some kind of battle between old school indie The 1975 and their more recent love affair with more experimental production and composition. For dedicated fans, this album will be loved, but for people that just like the band, Notes On A Conditional Form is a big step away from the crowd-pleasing indie bops that the band were once a go-to for.

Notes On A Conditional Form will be released on 22/4/20