Album Review: The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form

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The 1975 - Notes On A Conditional Form

Notes on a Conditional Form, The 1975’s latest album opens in a very interesting way that actually outlines its soul and structure. From a political stance featuring Greta Thunberg which ends with the exhortation “it is time to rebel”, to a second roaring, punkish, and desecrating track, People, soon followed by an all-instrumental piece called The End (Music For Cars), before jumping right into Frail State of Mind, a drum and bass song flavoured with an old Craig David touch, this LP leaves the listener definitely astonished by the variety of genres approached… Wow!

Undoubtedly, the English ensemble originally from Wilmslow, Cheshire have always enjoyed experimenting with different sounds; however, with this product, they deliver something quite unique. The new LP contains 22 tracks and it is part of their third release cycle together with A Brief Inquiry Into On Line Relationships (2018), their previous album.

It is not easy at a first listen to understand the overall ‘story’ behind this work, nevertheless, it has a sort of alternate rhythm in its entirety. It is hard to tell if they are following a rhythmic pattern in the disposition of their tracks, but it might seem so, as it shows a sort of consistency in the alternation of songs with different speeds, genres and sounds.

After Streaming, another all-instrumental piece, we enter into one of 2 songs at the crossroads of R&B and drum ‘n’ bass with hints of the latest Bieber: I am talking about I Think There’s Something You Should Know and Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy). Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied shares part of the same “soul”, yet with a strong ‘80s club vibe.

The 1975 announces 2020 North American tour with special guests - AXS
The 1975

Set up differently or, to better say, on a more “extreme” line, are Shiny Collarbone, an intense track merging house and drum ‘n’ bass and conveying Buddha-Bar atmospheres; Having No Head, tenser, and definitely deeper house; and Bagsy Not In Net, aligned with the previous song.

The album also consists of classic indie pop/rock pieces and ballads such as Then Because She Goes, the cool and catchy Roadkill, followed right after by Me & You Together Song, If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know) with reflections of late ‘80s / early ‘90s pop, and Guys aligned with the most classic pop tradition.

Completing this unprecedented LP are other tracks such as Don’t Worry, a choral song with a little echo of Boyz 2 Men, the soft Playing On My Mind, and the acoustically captivating Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America.

UK garage, drum ‘n’ bass, pop, rock, R&B and house are the genres that run into the veins of Notes On A Conditional Form: to my mind a pretty tangled mix that sometimes makes it difficult to understand the overall cohesion. Or maybe that is exactly the key to approach and explore this album: through the musical contrasts, the merging of different sounds, experiencing the new meanings and feelings that may arise… It is surely an interesting creation, something that has to be sipped and tasted little by little as every song encapsulates a whole universe.

Francesca Sacerdoti

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