‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ is The 1975’s newest full-length release, dropping in early October after fairly little commotion. Following 2020’s ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’ and 2018’s ‘A Brief Inquiry into Modern Relationships,’ ‘BFIAFL’ is right on schedule—but it feels different.
The 1975 has long prided themselves on heady, introspective lyricism and heavy-handed thematic ties over a backdrop of dense, atmospheric instrumentals—toeing the line between meaningful social commentary and the kind of pretension that makes listeners want to roll their eyes. Following a history of clumsy and sometimes self-indulgent projects with lengthy track-lists, ‘Being Funny’ is a concise 11-track album that feels mature and focused. The 1975 have been doing this thing for a while now, they know what they bring to the table and the result is an impressively timeless album with high replay value.
As every other The 1975 album to date, the project kicks off with a self-titled track “The 1975,” which sets the tone for the rest of the work. Reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends,” “The 1975” (Being Funny edition) features doubled pianos and an orchestral wall of sound against frontman Matty Healy’s quintessential musings on the digital age and modern relationships. Next up is “Happiness,” a number derived from a casual jam session gone right—this one simultaneously feels both fresh and nostalgic, with twinkling guitar lines, horn solos and a super-danceable hook.
One of the most unique standouts on the album, “Part of the Band,” is underpinned by a raucous string section and a satisfyingly long-winded outro that reminds us Healy can still poke fun at himself: “Am I ironically woke? / The butt of my joke? / Or am I just some post-coke, average, skinny bloke / Calling his ego imagination?”
Fast-paced, 80s-inspired grooves like “Looking for Somebody (To Love)” and “Oh Caroline” are balanced out by surprisingly effective ballads like “All I Need to Hear” and “About You.” Peppered throughout the album in equal parts, we see reflections on toxic masculinity and political strife and the self-referential touches that diehard fans go wild for.
In the hyper-energetic narrative track “Wintering,” Healy croons, “And I’ll be givin’ my chair to my Mum cause her back hurts,” only to circle back to this line at the bridge: “Now Mum’s not a fan of that line about her back / She said it makes her sound frumpy and old/ I said, ‘Woman, you are sixty-four years old!'” The 1975 is having fun here—and listeners feel it come through in the music.
While The 1975 have had a dedicated following since the early 2010s, ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ will be appreciated by fans and new listeners alike—maybe going so far as to cement the band as one of the defining pop acts of this era. Frankly, ‘BFIAL’ is exactly the type of album that The 1975 has been clamouring to make for years, and it’s something special, so don’t be surprised if this one stands the test of time.