The 1975’s newly released second album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, marked the second time the band had reached No. 1 on the album chart in their homeland, the United Kingdom. It also became the group’s first No. 1 album in the United States upon its late-February release.
But singer/guitarist Matt Healy said his feelings about the achievement were very different from what he felt when the group’s self-titled debut reached No. 1 in the UK when it dropped in September 2013.
“At the time, I didn’t realize it, but now I realize the desire for that [first] album to do so well, the first one, was definitely imbued with my desire to be known and have people know who I am,” said Healy.
“On this [second] record, I had to get myself to a place where I really didn’t care,” explained Healy, of the approach to songwriting for the band’s latest. “I had to get to a place where I was doing it because I just loved doing it [the music] and I wasn’t scared of what people were going to say and I wasn’t scared of what people were going to think … It was a different experience because it was about the album. It wasn’t my ego. It wasn’t about me. It was about this thing that I’d made doing so well.”
That sense of satisfaction is something Healy said he always felt he would one day get to experience. The group had its share of disappointments in the decade after Healy, drummer George Daniel, guitarist Adam Hann and bassist Ross MacDonald — all students at Wimslow High School in Wimslow, a town in Cheshire, England — formed the group.
“We were 13 when we started this band,” Healy said. “We grew up together, and we fucked up together, and all of our social groups were based around the band. We were a band, like a band of people, like bound together. And that stands for something. I think when you have that and you put so much love into it, it’s not something that you just let go. It’s something that kind of defines who you are. So no matter how many times we were being told no, we just knew in our hearts that this was it. This was what we were going to do. I think that it’s about belief, isn’t it? And we just started convincing people.”
The group also had musical growing to do, and Healy admitted the band’s influences were too obvious in its early music; it took time to find a musical identity, which is based in creating a pop sound that blends an array of styles, including electronica, ’80s-ish synth-pop, soul, and funk.
“That’s what defines our music, the fact that we literally don’t care about stuff like genres and these kinds of things.”
The fact that the 1975 was starting to find its voice was apparent over four EPs released between 2012 and spring 2013. That activity spawned a pair of UK hit singles, “Sex” and “Chocolate,” which helped set the stage for the emphatic debut of the self-titled album over there.
The way The 1975 blends an array of styles into its songs has indeed become its defining signature. I Like It … especially sounds like the work of a band, bursting with musical ideas, that decided to pack as many styles, sounds and ideas into the songs as possible. Rock, pop, electronica, ’80s-ish synth-pop and funk all figure into the process.
Those components make the album one that takes a few listens to digest and make sense of the sonic clutter built into the songs. Still, as the chart-topping debuts of I Like It … suggest, there’s enough immediacy to songs like “Love Me,” “She’s American,” and “Somebody Else” to draw the listener into the music and prompt further listens to winnow out the charms of each song.
Healy said the band will feature a number of songs from I Like It … in its initial U.S. shows to promote the album. Interestingly, though, he said the band plans to feature its four EPs more than the self-titled album in the rest of its set.
“My heart lies a lot in the EPs, and it’s not to take anything away from the first album,” said Healy. “I think — after two years of touring that [first] album — the EPs never really, I suppose, we never really toured them the way we did the first album. Now, our shows are about engaging and it being real — and it being live.”