Album Review: Notes on a Conditional Form – The experimental new record from the 1975 is truly an album for our Generation.

Notes on a Conditional Form; the 1975

Rating – “It’s great” / worth adding to your collection.

Notes on a Conditional Form begins, like all other the 1975 albums, with a track named ‘The 1975′ which samples audio from a Greta Thunberg speech. Greta talks in her melancholic voice about climate change and the human species’ losing battle with nature, as a really sombre piano piece is played in background. She urges people to perform civil disobedience and rebel against any sorts of politics that is keeping us from bringing about a change. But there lies the irony. You see, the 1975 are often criticised in the rock and roll music community for not being “rebellious” or “edgy” enough for an alternative/indie rock band. They are typically known to make clean synthesized ‘white girl’ music for teenagers with Matty Healy’s charming laid back observations of modern relationships. While, I don’t agree with those accusations, if you’re someone who believes them – you’re in for a surprise.

THE 1975 – NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM

Notes on a Conditional Form is not your typical the 1975 album. Like I said earlier, they make it very clear right from the very first track that they are trying to explore something deeper on this And the theme they are trying to explore is our generation’s modern life and struggles. Matty says the reason Greta’s speech was sampled into the album was because they wanted to give her some sort of pop culture relevance for being the voice of our generation’s eco friendly demands. The theme is nothing new The 1975 though, their last album ‘A brief Inquiry into Online Relationships’ dealt with similar themes. In fact ‘Notes on a Conditional Form ‘ is a sequel to that album, in their third release cycle “Music for Cars”. Originally supposed to come only months after the first album, the production of the album got delayed and after a long recording sessions in 16 different studios, the album has has finally arrived more than a year after it’s initial release date. But that long stretched production has given this album a sound you couldn’t have imagined otherwise. This with out a doubt, the most experimental the 1975 has ever been. From hypno rock to elctro-dance pop and even heavy metal, this album is mixture of sounds from variety of genre – all distorted but still connected to form a really meaningful experience. I completed listening to the album and instantly went back again. The album consists of these very ambitious àmbient music that is really exceptional all guided by the 1975’s classic books to lift them up. Also there a a couple of alternative post rock tracks sprinkled in this record, and those were just some of the best listening experiences I have had this year.

the 1975 – Guys – NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM

Matty’s laid back vocals with his observational song writing are still here on this album, but it’s much more introspective here. You can surely break them apart individually and find beautiful meaning in them. Matty said in an interview that the genesis of this album came from a time he watching watching Netflix alone in his room and immediately wanted more episodes as soon as the season ended. While that might not be a good analogy to explain the theme of this album, the theme of isolation runs throughout it. But the band’s secret weapon remains drummer and producer George Daniel, who has grown increasingly adept at matching Healy’s every whim as a songwriter. It’s easy to take for granted by now that, no matter what style the 1975 attempt, it will at least sound great. A slapstick country-emo travelogue? Go for it. A shoegaze snippet with Auto-Tuned ad-libs? Why not. A lush, futuristic Americana story-song? Fetch the pedal steel.

From a production stand point this is their most ambitious and intricate work yet. If the lyrics don’t tell a story, the music is telling an unified story in itself with its strange transition and sudden blows. The music packs a punch, you don’t know what to expect next as the 1975 change from one song to another. Which is ultimately my one gripe with this album, due so many unique sonic directions sometimes it feels lost and unmotivated. The songs don’t flow into each other naturally. But the tracks are finally bound together by a deep sense of isolation, which makes them great individually. For all its sonic experiments, Notes is filled with these quiet, self-affirming moments. If the 1975’s early work felt like pop music compulsively interrupted with provocations and footnotes, then Notes takes an inverse approach: It is a long, messy experiment that just so happens to peak with some of their sharpest songs. Yes, they have expressed some of these thoughts more succinctly in the past; and yes, the tracklist could be condensed so that you don’t have to clear your schedule to get through it. But when everything clicks, their work has never sounded so patient, so personal. And in the last song of album ‘Guys’, where it Matty sings about their early days and friendship among the band mates, all the societal and personal themes come together to form one beautiful mess.

In all of it’s experimentation and observational lyricism, Notes on a Conditional Form is truly an album for our Generation- with all the perils of of our times. In the song –  “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know),” a late-album highlight and their highest-charting single to date in the UK. Evolving from a slow-building intro into a mechanical chug, it is the record’s closest thing to a typical 1975 song—a glittery ’80s arrangement, a ridiculous saxophone solo, a charmingly sleazy hook. Matty sings about his obsession with the cam girl of his dreams – how he’s drawn towards the laptop every time and seduced into the screen by a girl he can’t meet. “I need to get back, I gotta see the girl on screen” Matty sings with bravado, and you’re left wondering if this is what the meaning of love and connection has come to in our digital age.

Fav Tracks – //The 1975/People/Frail State of Mind/Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America/ Straming/ Roadkill/ The End (Music for Cars)/ If you’re too shy (let me know)/ Having no Head/Me and you together songs/ I think there’s something you should know/ Don’t Worry/ Guys//

Least Fav Track – Shiny Collarbone

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jason Sheldon/Shutterstock (10567289o) The 1975 – Matty Healy The 1975 in concert at the Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, UK – 25 Feb 2020

You can listen to Notes on a Conditional Form by the 1975 here – https://open.spotify.com/album/0o5xjCboti8vXhdoUG9LYi?si=crfp7HfXSG2iCRoJ6ZuhFA

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