Published Feb 24, 2016Following their 2013 self-titled debut, there were at least half a dozen sonic paths the 1975 could have travelled. The Mancunian quartet boldly decided to pursue them all, and the result is the overstuffed, awkwardly titled and frequently brilliant I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it.
It would be easy to write this band off as '80s pastiche; after all, the record's lead single, the insanely infectious "Love Me," sounds like it fell off the back of an INXS greatest hits collection. But such reduction would ignore the record's dense production that owes as much to Boards of Canada and Sigur Ros as it does Prince. I like it when you sleep distils the band's disparate influences into a unified sound, often masking experimentation with hooks and singer-guitarist Matt Healy's romantic croon. His lyrics oscillate between clever and overly earnest, often within the same song. Sandwiched between the soaring choruses of towering pop-gospel number "The Sound," Healy self-deprecatingly describes himself as "A sycophantic, prophetic Socratic junkie wannabe," apologizing to a lover for forgetting her name before asking "Oh baby won't you cum again?"
Yet, there's surprising subtlety to much of the record; moving beyond the twin pillars of singles "Love Me" and "The Sound" are more simple pleasures like "Paris" and "Please be Naked," a four-and-a-half-minute instrumental that aspires to the great heights of Phoenix's "Love Like a Sunset." Like Phoenix, the 1975 filter a range of sounds into sticky pop tunes; consequently, I like it when you sleep falls somewhere between that band's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and M83's Hurry Up We're Dreaming, crafting songs that, for the most part, feel familiar but not derivative.
The band's ambition proves to be their sole stumbling block. With 17 tracks running almost 74 minutes, the album is long and surprisingly difficult to get through in a single sitting, a surprising turn for what is otherwise a fun and joyous pop record. Individually, the songs stand on their own, but taken together, there's a repetition of ideas that starts to pile up, and tracks begin running into one another. Given some judicious editing, this could have been a truly great album; as it stands, we'll have to settle for just really, really good.
Order I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it on CD via Umusic. (Interscope)