Strap yourself in for the 22-track journey
Dillon Eastoe
17:52 15th April 2020

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Dear Reader, after a few false starts we have what we believe to be the final (final!) release date and tracklisting for the 1975’s new album Notes on a Conditional Form. The album sprawls at 22 songs, and if the tracks we’ve heard so far are anything to go by it’s all over the place musically, lurching from punk to UK garage to country. 

In lieu of a copy of the finished record in our hands we’re going to have to do some detective work (and an unspecified amount of guesswork we’ll admit) in a track-by-track as we try to piece together exactly what’s going on in Matty’s brain.

1. ‘The 1975 (NOACF)’

Now normally these intro tracks have taken the same form, the melody and lyrics identical with the arrangement changing. First we got twinkling synth on the self-titled debut, then a gospel choir on I like it when you sleep… and finally auto-tuned jazz on A Brief Inquiry… Here, instead, we get a stark warning from teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg over gentle piano and keyboards. “It is time to rebel.” If it doesn’t make the hairs on your back stand up then fair play, I had to pull over and cry first time it came on in the car. Each to their own.

2.  ‘People’

This was the big one, released the day before their defining Reading Festival headline set in order that it could open the show. And god does it rip. A totally new side to The 1975, ‘People’ is the equivalent of Matty Healy stood over your bed screaming into a loudhailer and clipping you round the ear. “Wake up!!” is the furious segue from Greta Thunberg’s spine-tingling speech on the preceding instrumental; a shocking burst of punk delivered with raw power, it reaffirmed that The 1975 can do anything.

3.  ‘The End (Music for Cars)’ 

Here, Dear Reader, is where we start to get speculative. We’re gonna guess this one is an instrumental, because why not? Haven’t had one yet. Warbling synths, some auto-tuned vocal parts and full use of a Casio keyboard’s percussion setting from George. We’ll chuck in some Phoebe Bridgers harmony singing because we’ve heard she’s all over the album. Let your imagination do the rest.

4.  ‘Frail State of Mind’

The third release from the album, The 1975 delve into UK garage for this disorientating social anxiety trip. It cleverly borrows the melody from its analogue on A Brief Enquiry…, flipping ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’s tropical fun on its head for a jittery auto-tuned ode to overthinking.

5.  ‘Streaming'

More guesswork here. We don’t know anything at all about this track but how about a back to basics indie song a la ‘Sex’ or ‘Give Yourself a Try’ because we haven’t had one of those yet. Distorted guitars, heavy drums, urgent vocal, bish bash bosh.

6.  ‘The Birthday Party’

If you’ve not seen the insane video clip for this track, rectify that now. A mad video game trip to digital rehab, it comes complete with obscure meme-age and Matty finally getting the chance to snog himself. The song itself is a chill, alt-country shuffle about trying to skirt around a hedonistic lifestyle, featuring a ridiculous verse about being shy about pooping in the same hotel room as your partner. Who had ‘Adam will be playing banjo on a country song’ on their 1975 bingo card? No, didn’t think so.

7.  ‘Yeah I Know’

 George and Matty hinted last year that Notes… would be night-time music, and it’s with regret that we inform you that ‘Yeah I Know’ is Matty’s first fully spoken-word verse. Yep. Probably, maybe. Replace the polemic of ‘Love It If We Made It’ with the kind of snide criticisms featuring in the video for ‘The Sound’ and you’ve got the verses. The chorus is just an auto-tuned Matty shrugging and going. “Yeah I know,” while the Jaiy twins lead a sick dance routine.

8.  ‘Then Because She Goes’ 

A heartbreaker this one, we reckon, but with a hopeful lift in the melody. A laid-back bop in the vein of ‘A Change of Heart’, with an addictive keyboard line after the chorus. There’s a lyric about struggling to pay your dealer on Monzo.

9.  ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’ 

Released this week, this is another very chill jam. Lyrically it’s from the same headspace as ‘If I Believe You’, envying religious people, their faith and the freedom from existential angst it can bring them, “Fortunately I believe, lucky me”. Musically we get a cute folk song with Phoebe Bridgers taking the second verse and chorus in the first of numerous collabs across the album.

10.  ‘Roadkill’ 

When I hear the word ‘roadkill’ I think of a parched desert dissected by a highway, flies buzzing around a carcass and the screech of an eagle circling an easy meal. And I’m sure Matty does too. That’s why this one is a six-minute slow burn blues song with a load of bottleneck slide guitar and Sheriff Healy affecting a Texan accent. This one was never in doubt.

11.  ‘Me & You Together Song’ 

Some of you have no doubt noticed the similarities in melody with a certain Busted song. The band head that off by making a 2000s boyband video, so there! The song is a lovely indie jangle of unrequited love and most crucially has given us another brilliantly dumb lyric to scream whenever we’re allowed outside to a gig, “You would cook and I’d do the nappies (NAPPIES!!!!)”

12.  ‘I Think There’s Something You Should Know’ 

This album is still only half way done, wind it in guys. We’ve just come out of a bop on the previous song so this one’s slow and it’s a bunch of The Cure-style phased guitars and ominous drum sounds. Matty reaches for his lower register, the lyrics are dark and you’ve turned the lights off and closed the curtains to get into the vibe before you know it.

13.  ‘Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied’ ­

It’s got a forward slash in the title, so it’s the sister song to ‘How to Draw/Petrichor’, bet your bottom dollar. The arrangement makes no sense, a dirty bass synthesiser cranked alongside delicate marimba tones. George is making use of the rainmaker you used to prat around with in year eight music. Through the auto-tune you can make out what seems to be Matty reciting his lockdown sourdough diary. It died. Everything does. You’re getting this one tattooed as soon as isolation is over.

14.  ‘Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)’ 

This is a power ballad duet with Phoebe Bridgers, no doubt about it. It’s got a Phil Collins drum roll into the chorus and a massive key change before the last chorus. Adam Hann shreds an Aerosmith guitar solo for the last 90 seconds. Lighters are held aloft.

15.  ‘Shiny Collarbone’ 

I haven’t the foggiest why a collarbone might be shiny. Perhaps Ross has gotten into archaeology and brought a Neolithic artefact back to the studio to show off? Let’s go with that.

16.  ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ 

If you saw The 1975 earlier this year you’ll know this one is the absolute banger. If you didn’t see them, let us assure you, this is the absolute banger. Imagine The 1975 had written Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ and add indulgent levels of saxophone and you’re all the way. Expect a single release because this one bops something mega.

17.  ‘Playing on My Mind' 

Almost there. A few more songs to go. ‘Playing on My Mind’ features Phoebe Bridgers taking the lead vocal AND a cheesy sax solo because we all deserve a treat for getting to track seventeen I think. Give yourself a round of applause.

18.  ‘Having No Head’ 

After A Brief Inquiry… featured a song called ‘Surrounded By Heads and Bodies’, could this be a kind of sequel? Maybe not. But also maybe, we can’t rule anything out at this stage.

19.  ‘What Should I Say’ 

The title of this track suggests Matty is lost for words, which immediately has alarm bells ringing. This is most likely written from someone else’s perspective as Matty always has something to say. We’ll call this one a slow burner with a sax solo at the three minute mark. Next!

20.  ‘Bagsy Not in Net’

No idea.

21.  ‘Don’t Worry’ 

This song is written and performed by Matty’s dad, Tim Healy. From Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. We’re not totally sure why it’s on a 1975 album but as you can probably tell we’re well past second guessing them at this point, and who knows, it could be amazing and Tim could eclipse his son’s band. We’ll just need to wait and see.

22.  ‘Guys’ 

Another tune debuted on their recent UK tour, if you’re looking for a closer as epic as ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ this ain’t it. It is however a cute counterpoint to early hit ‘Girls’, Matty strumming an acoustic guitar while he tells his bandmates how much he loves them. It’s soppy and naff but since when have we had a problem with that?

After a debut album that was met with scorn by certain critics, The 1975 gained their respect with a perfect pop album on I like it when you sleep… A Brief Inquiry… earned widespread acclaim while delighting their devoted fans, and you can’t help feel from the weird and wonderful singles from Notes… so far that the band are having fun with this turn around in fortunes. There’s bound to be some more curveballs to come and a few more familiar sounds but it appears Matty, George, Adam and Ross are letting their imaginations run wild as they continue to poke fun at what a guitar band ‘should be’.

 So there you have it. A bunch of wild speculative thoughts on what the remaining 16 songs might sound like. If you’ve got any other shouts let us know.

Notes On A Conditional Form is released on 22 May 2020 via Dirty Hit.

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Photo: Jordan Hughes