This album was apparently made with a ‘zero f***s given perspective’ – perhaps if the band cared a little more the result wouldn’t be a smug farrago in which each track grates against the next like rusted gears

Matt Healy is a man of contradictions. Read any two of his recent interviews and youll probably find him blithely disagreeing with himself. To his fans, The 1975 frontman is a shamanic figure who stands apart from artists afraid to speak their mind. To others, he’s a preening pseudo-intellectual speaking from a soapbox carved out of privilege and narcissism. However you feel about him, though, his rock’n’roll charisma and ear for a great pop melody has helped his band produce one good and two great albums, win multiple awards and sell out a string of arena tours. With their follow-up to 2018’s Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, however, they’ve released the first dud of the summer, a 22-track-long parade of stream-of-conscious self-indulgence.
As is his way, Healy offered multiple statements in the build-up to Notes on a Conditional Form’s release, calling it both the best 1975 album and the one made with a zero f***s given perspective. Perhaps if they’d cared a little more the result wouldn’t have been such a smug farrago in which each track grates against the next like rusted gears.
In between the nonsense meaningless orchestral interludes and indistinguishable dance tracks inspired by Jon Hopkins and Bonobo there are flashes of promise, mostly in the instrumentation. Even this is lost to inconsistent mixing unsurprising, given NOAFC was written largely on tour and recorded in 16 different studios. Grasping for authenticity, the band have chosen to leave in the creak of a piano stool and scratch of a guitar string on the Phoebe Bridgers collaboration Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America, only to undo it with self-consciously naïve lyrics (Soil just needs water to be/ And the seed/ So if we turn into a tree/ Can I be the leaves?).
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Healy tends to borrow heavily from his favourites hes admitted in the past that the way that I write music is that I listen to a song I love and I copy it. Single People pays its dues to Fugazi particularly 1998s End Hits in that its a paint-by-numbers replication of their ramshackle energy. If Youre Too Shy (Let Me Know) lifts outrageously from Tears for Fears Everybody Wants to Rule the World, from the propulsive shuffle rhythm to the twinkling synths, while the intro on Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy) uses a vocoder pitch that is pure Kanye West. I think I f***ed it royally, Healy sings on the latter. He’s not wrong.