NOACF was scheduled, then re-scheduled, delayed, pushed back and delayed some more. I don’t read into that shit, but this time maybe I should have. This album lacks any focus: it’s a baggy pretentious meander through Matty Healy’s barely formed stream of consciousness. The sort of listless nonsense your brain comes up with while you’re stood in the shower, but put to music.
It’s hard to say this because I’ve been a fan of the band since the beginning. They seemed to reach their peak with A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. That may have had pacing issues of its own. But the wanky title was at least instructive: ABIIOR got to the heart of the issue. It was a thesis on what it meant to be a young person in 2018.
This is like a fucking Drake album: a never-ending slog of barely formed song ideas. It should have been called Notes On An Attritional Bore. Yeah have that one for free.
The 1975’s albums have always suffered from bloat, but I usually excused this on the basis you can pick and choose what you want. However the quotient of good songs to boring songs was usually pretty high. Here I’d say 30 – 40% is worth listening to. It’s just so irritating sifting through all this auto-tuned, flavourless fucking goop just to find one good song.
There are enough good songs here to make a brilliant EP, or a good album. As a long-form….whatever the hell an 80 minute collection of music can be called, it’s tedious. This must be what people who hate The 1975 think all their albums sound like.
So, the good songs. ‘Me & You Together Song’ is the best. It recalls perfectly the sound and feel of the late 90s and early 00s, the sort of song you’d hear on the radio at the pic-n-mix aisle at Woolworths circa 2001. ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ is good too, as we’ve said, and an unexpected minor hit. Matty Healy reminds us of the sort of choruses he can knock out when he puts his mind to it.
‘The Birthday Party’ isn’t going for a lot, it’s a hangout song. Mellowed out, melodic and sweet. It’s easy to like. ‘Having No Head’ is one of the many, many instrumental passages in this mess but it does at least have some success with it. Deep synthbass grooves and flourishes of melody. I hate ‘People’. ‘Frail State of Mind’ & ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’ are fine. Just fine. But I really have nothing to say about them.
There’s a difference between a critical review that hates the whole project and just wants to slap it about a bit, and a review which comes from a place of love. Do better, The 1975. We know you can. This album is insufferable.