From the striking neon lights and smoke that surrounded the release of their self-titled project to the eclectic experiment in electronic and anarcho-punk of latest release, Notes on A Conditional Form, there is no denying The 1975’s influence on the indie zeitgeist. Amongst their most memorable was the playful pastels of 2016’s i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, and Amrit Virdi reflects on its lasting influence, 5 years on.
The ever-evolving Manchester-based band The 1975 have firmly established themselves in the indie scene, recently culminating their eight-year-long ‘Music For Cars’ era with the release of their surprisingly experimental fourth studio album Notes On A Conditional Form in 2020. With each album era bringing with it a distinctive look and enduring new sound, 2021 marks five years since the release of the theatrical reinvention of second studio album, i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it.
The band emerged onto the music scene with a grunge-like aesthetic accompanied by angsty electric guitars on their debut self-titled album. Three years later came I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, straying away from pop-rock conventions and launching the band into a world of swirling pastel pink neons. Ever-modest frontman Matty Healy simply told NME “the world needs this album.” A pivotal change in style and soundtracking the teenage years of many indie-loving young adults, the record spawned hits such as The Sound and Love Me – some of the most notable indie-pop tracks from the 2010s. The album’s success was therefore unsurprising, going straight to number one in both the US and the UK, and selling 108,000 equivalent album units in its first week.
‘A work of cinematic storytelling, neon visuals bring the melodies to life in a blaze of pastels and fluorescent lighting.’
Healy once again tells the story of his own life through thoughtful and metaphorical lyricism, intricately laced from track to track. With the album-closing on an acoustic solo, as the frontman explores his mother’s battle with postnatal depression in She Lays Down, the band clearly doesn’t shy away from tackling real subjects and raw emotions. Somebody Else, a frank take on heartbreak, still remains the band’s top track on Spotify, hovering almost at the half-a-billion streams mark. The band also pick apart the complex web religion in If I Believe You, as well as penning an observation on society at the time in Loving Someone.
Sonically, the album leans heavily into ethereal backings and shimmering synth. Pop-rock-inspired moments allude to their debut in tracks such as Lostmyhead, solidifying the band’s roots in that realm, but not overshadowing their venture into self-aware electro-pop with this record. Elements of this sound carry on into the record’s follow up, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, and even floating into Notes On A Conditional Form which, whilst surprising fans with a different and unconventional approach from the band, which features layered electronic synth backings in tracks such as Frail State Of Mind. Evidently, this demonstrates the importance of i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it – a strong influence in the band’s musical journey, despite the ongoing evolution they experience with each record release.
A work of cinematic storytelling, the neon visuals paired with the album bring the melodies to life in a blaze of pastels and fluorescent lighting. On the influences behind the neon shift from their previous black and white aesthetic, Healy explains that fan-made pink edits on Tumblr, of the iconic ‘box’ associated with the band, influenced them to adopt the bubblegum aesthetic. This led to the album in all its glory as a “dreamy, pink-hued, filtered reality.”
It’s therefore of little doubt that i like it when you sleep is one of, if not the most, pivotal and influential moments of The 1975’s career and musical journey; solidifying their experimental indie-synth sound which carries through to their music even five years later. With the ‘Music For Cars’ era now over, fans are surely excited to see what is next for the renowned indie-pop group, and whether the roots solidified in i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it will be present in their future releases.
Written by: Amrit Virdi
Edited by: Louise Dugan