4: The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It
Like its title, the 1975’s sophomore album is alarmingly long, equal parts amusing and pretentious, and ultimately unforgettable. And like the act ranked #9 on my year-end countdown, these Manchester lads pay homage to/shamelessly steal from the ‘80s pop canon—at times they sound like INXS, Scritti Politti, and Howard Jones formed a supergroup. But “I Like It…” (I won’t even attempt an acronym) manages to be both an entertaining throwback and refreshingly forward-looking at the same time. The melodies and production can feel akin to scanning through one of those “Just Can’t Get Enough” new wave compilations, but frontman Matthew Healy—a polarizing Brit brat who regularly vexes critics with proclamations like “The world needs this album”—sings lyrics that are in general wittier, more explicit and definitely more social media-savvy than his Thatcher-era forebears. “You said I’m full of diseases, your eyes were full of regret,” Healy warbles pleasingly on the sublime ballad “Change of Heart,” before adding, “Then you took a picture of your salad and put it on the internet.” But just when you’ve given yourself over to the Gen X-meets-Millennial groove, the 1975 disperses a handful of downtempo change-ups into the mix, of which the dreamy six-and-a-half-minute title track is the standout. The U-turns in tone might be jarring in less assured hands and at 17 songs, “I Like It…” threatens to wear out its welcome. The fact that it never does is something of a mini-miracle and a credit to this ambitious and hugely exciting young band.