Anyone who knows Matty Healy, lead vocalist of indie-alternative rock band The 1975, knows from his expletive-laden LPs and steadfast commitment to carving out his pretentious personal brand that the guy is a real piece of work. Anyone who doesn’t know Healy but might have come across his near-nauseating narcissism in an interview clip or music video could probably surmise the exact same thing.
Oddly enough, this overwhelming air of superiority is precisely what makes his music different—and arguably far better—than the regular, run-of-the-mill alternative music released in 2016 thus far.
Healy takes himself far too seriously for his own good, and—as exhibited by the impassioned, pompous way in which he discusses the purpose of his band’s music—he takes his work as a singer-songwriter just as seriously. This is, for his fans and really anyone who appreciates enjoying quality music, a good thing. Cherishing his own music as a gift to the world, Healy strives for nothing short of perfection—thus creating an infectiously groovy track every time he puts pencil to paper.
I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It is more than just an alternative-rock album that boasts an unnecessarily long title. It packs much more than that into a one-hour-and-14-minute music masterpiece—a delicious tracklist of boppy synth-pop, electro-atmospheric instrumentals, and scintillating lyrics about heartbreak, death, and drugs.
Healy’s got this smart-aleck kind of attitude that, fused with a propensity for perfectly crafted, verbose sentences, becomes absolutely endearing. His incredible ability to construct poetic constellations of lyrics is reaffirmed in the album’s biggest hits, like ’80s-inspired darling “UGH!” and dance-inducing song “The Sound.” Confidently, Healy samples his ego-driven lyrics in “The Sound,” confidently singing “It’s not about reciprocation, it’s just all about me / A sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe.” A few lines later, his linguistic artistry and self-important persona shine through yet again when he references “a simple Epicurean philosophy.”
I Like it When You Sleep delivers 17 perfectly produced songs that introduce a more mature sound than the band’s rock-heavy debut album. This sophomore release proves the band’s versatility while still retaining its signature, in-your-face atmosphere of unadulterated angst.
The 1975’s second album can be described as chaotic and self-indulgent, and Healy is simply not sorry about it. It’s poised and polished—like the glistening “Paris” and the sweet-sounding “Nana”—but upon deeper analysis exposes a hopelessly tangled mess of emotions.
I think the world circa 2016 is like that, too. Confusing and profoundly beautiful and deeply upsetting, all rolled into one imperfect narrative of the human experience. Aligning perfectly with Healy’s perpetuation of the tortured-artist stereotype, the year has been a decidedly overdramatic one. The 1975 released this sophomore album of stunningly strung-together, woe-is-me lyrics at a time when the social climate is shifting to one marked predominantly by self-interest and individual success.
I Like It When You Sleep is the best album of 2016 thus far, simply because it’s exactly what fans were hoping for from the band—honest storytelling in the form of an absurdly artistic alternative album. It’s got all the bells and whistles expected from the band’s eccentric lead vocalist.
The innumerable oddities of I Like It When You Sleep make for the most charming and intriguing album of the year. It’s smart and suave and demands to be heard, much like the frontman himself. At times stripped down entirely—as in “She Lays Down,” a sweet and stark-naked acoustic track—it is also overwhelmingly overproduced at other times (like the jarring clunkiness of “Love Me”).
Urban Dictionary entries of Healy’s name describe the 27-year old, quite aptly, as “a rock & roll poet”— “an emo lord [who] likes using the word ‘juxtaposition.’” This quirky and intimidatingly intellectual persona created by the frontman makes him a rather endearing enigma. In short, he’s music’s most likeable bad guy.
“We wanted it to be in the pursuit of the truth,” Healy says apathetically in an MTV interview about his genre-blending sophomore LP. “[Genres] have never really mattered … If the concept of genre didn’t exist, the purity of that experience—of listening to music without those rules—is, like, a blissful idea. I really don’t care. It’s so irrelevant to me.” His voice blares with blatant tones of self-important superiority.
But you forgive him, because he makes a good point. And because his music is very good.
Featured Image By Interscope Records