Never judge an album by its title—even when it has such a creepy, pervy name as I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It.
Back in 2013, the 1975 broke out with their self-titled debut, which brought glam guitars and synths back to rock music (again), earned them a coveted female-teen demographic, and propelled them to high-profile festival slots at Coachella and Glastonbury.
With their follow-up, the British quartet are challenging themselves further. Frontman Matthew Healy has said in interviews that he wanted to make a “truly modern” record that’s inspired by the disparate ways fans consume music today, while also citing Christina Aguilera, D’Angelo, and Janet Jackson producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as muses. Ambitious? Definitely. But his group succeeds with 17 songs that dip into everything from acoustic folk (“She Lays Down”) and overblown power ballads (“Change of Heart”) to rousing gospel (“If I Believe You”) and avant-garde, Brian Eno-esque explorations (“Please Be Naked”). And are those Enya-style wind chimes on the title track?
The album may be a glorious mess genre-wise, but it’s held together by Healy’s funny, absurd tales. He’s a bona fide Rock Star now, so he writes about Rock Star things: rumors of dating Taylor Swift and the dangers of cocaine. “Charlatan telepathy exploiting insecurity and praying on the purity of grief,” goes one awesomely inscrutable lyric. Healy may get lost in his head, but I Like It… is a delightful, overshare-y trip that celebrates a new era of boundaryless pop. As for that Tumblr rant of a title, they’re forgiven. B+