Achingly raw, brutally honest, and (above all) hopeful, ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ is a softly stunning masterpiece: The 1975’s fifth studio album is their most realized, heartfelt, and loving work to date.
‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ – The 1975
The 1975’s fifth studio album is a softly stunning masterpiece.
Released October 14 via Dirty Hit, Being Funny in a Foreign Language feels like the breath of fresh air that this year, and this band, have needed: Love lies at the core of a beautifully tender and honest record that takes everything we’ve long known and loved about The 1975’s artistry, and synthesizes it down into 44 captivating, deeply cathartic, and incredibly cohesive minutes (for reference, the band’s last three LPs had a runtime of 80 minutes, 58 minutes, and 74 minutes, respectively).
And while Matty Healy’s biting social commentary, his charismatic irreverence, and unapologetic introspection are still plenty present throughout this album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language feels relaxed in a way that The 1975 haven’t felt in their entire career.
Heartbeat is coming in so strong
If you don’t stop I’m gonna need a second one
Oh, there’s something I’ve been meaning
to say to you baby (hold that thought)
Yeah, there’s something I’ve been meaning
to say to you baby but I just can’t do it
What a call, moving in, I feel like I can loosen my lips
I can summarise it for you, it’s simple and it goes like this…
I’m in love with you
– “I’m in Love with You,” The 1975
Maybe we’re all getting into our thirties and realizing it feels good to be happy and embrace love, even if that’s easier said than done at times. “I’m sorry about my twenties, I was learnin’ the ropes, I had a tendency of thinkin’ about it after I spoke,” 33-year-old frontman Matty Healy reflects on the self-titled opener “The 1975” (every album opens with the song of the same name, acting as a manifest or check-in with the band that sets the tone for the record to come). “We’re experiencin’ life through the postmodern lens, oh, call it like it is, you’re makin’ an aesthetic out of not doin’ well...”
I’m sorry about my twenties, I was learnin’ the ropes
I had a tendency of thinking about it after I spoke
“We’re experiencing life through the postmodern lens”
Oh, call it like it is!!
You’re making an aesthetic out of not doing well
And mining all the bits of you you think you can sell
Whilst the fans are on
Whimsical, political, liberal,
with young people as collateral
You see, I can’t sleep ’cause the American Dream
Has been buyin’ up all of my self-esteem
While QAnon created a legitimate scene
But it was just some bloke in the Philippines
And it’s about ‘time’…
This is what it looks like
I’m sorry if you’re living and you’re 17
This song ends with the repeated mantra, “I’m sorry if you’re livin’ and you’re seventeen,” which seems to affirm this notion of basking in the calm seas of maturity – as opposed to the turbulence and turmoil of our teens and twenties.
From there, the band transition directly into the passionate, enthusiastic love song “Happiness,” an uplifting reverie whose dynamic groove, glistening guitars, soaring horns, and heartfelt, glowing vocals are joy manifest.
“She showed me what love is, now I’m actin’ like I know myself… In case you didn’t notice, I would go blind just to see you,” Healy sings, going on to declare in a buoyant chorus, “Show me your love, why don’t you? Grow up and see…” Things are never black or white for this band, but it’s nice to hear them soaking up the sunshine – and making the most of their saxophonist, John Waugh, whose horn smolders and soars throughout most, if not all of the album’s eleven tracks.
She showed me what love is
Now I’m acting like I know myself
Oh in case you didn’t notice
I would go blind just to see you
I’d go too far just to have you near
In my soul I’ve got this feeling I didn’t know until I seen ya!
My, my, my, you mind my mind…
She’s insatiable is what she is
Her body’s like a modern art
Take it out in front of me
I’m gonna stop messing it up
because I’m feeling like I’m messing it up
because I’m calling out your name
and God help me, ’cause
Oh I’m never gonna love again
Hey! I’m never gonna love again
Being Funny in a Foreign Language is nostalgic and reflective; it’s humble and appreciative; it’s intimate and brooding; it’s achingly raw and brutally honest; and most of all, it’s hopeful. There’s a no-holds-barred openness and directness to Healy’s lyrics and vocal performance this time around (this shines especially bright on songs like the unapologetically radiant “I’m in Love With You,” the sentimentally sweet and buoyant “Wintering,” and the inspiring, all-consuming celebratory standout “Oh Caroline“) that, combined with the band’s lush arrangements, their vivid, cinematic melodies, and Jack Antonoff’s production, creates an overall sense of comfort and warmth.
This holds as true for the album’s upbeat, invigorating, and anthemic moments, as it does for softer and slower songs like the heated, stirring ballad “All I Need to Hear” and the haunting confessional “Human Too,” in which an exposed Healy poignantly bares his faults, flaws, and all: “I’m sorry that I’m someone that I wish I could change, but I’ve always been the same,” he croons. “Don’t you know that I’m a Human too?“
Healy has never been shy about sharing himself in song, but Being Funny in a Foreign Language is an elevation of that intimacy. He takes his candid songwriting and colorful storytelling to new heights throughout this album, opening himself up like never before and, in doing so, creating an intensely intimate and visceral album experience for all who listen.
I’ve been suicidal
You’ve been gone for weeks
If I’m undecided, will you decide for me?
Baby, I’ll do anythin’ that you want to
I’ll try anythin’ that you want to
I’ll try, ’cause you’re on my mind
I wanna get it right this time
‘Cause you’re always on my mind
Oh-oh, Caroline (Oh-oh)
– “Oh Caroline,” The 1975
Fittingly, this album ends with the perfect bow to tie together everything that’s come before it.
“The only time I feel I might get better is when we are together.” Being Funny in a Foreign Language leans into the power of love. It’s not corny; it’s not cliché; it’s just honest, heartfelt humanity shining through the bleak and the blue.
This is, without a doubt, The 1975’s most realized work to date, and it’s all a testament to growing up and reflecting on the things that matter most to us.
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? © Samuel Bradley
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