REVIEW: The 1975’s ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’

The English band released their fifth studio album Oct. 14


The cover of The 1975’s fifth studio album “Being Funny in a Foreign Language.” The album features the singles “Part of the Band,” “Happiness,” “I’m in Love with You” and “All I Need to Hear.” (Photo courtesy of Dirty Hit)

Chris Woodard

Pop-rock has been on a roller coaster ride in the last two decades– peaking in the late 2000s, dipping to new lows then picking back up in recent years. 

Unfortunately, P!nk and The Killers cannot save us forever, and with the pop-rock bands of the 2000s moving on or getting “canceled,” English band The 1975 has risen to the occasion for almost a decade now.

The 1975 released their fifth studio album “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” on Oct. 14, over two years after their last release, “Notes on a Conditional Form.”

After a canceled tour and isolation  like the rest of the world during the pandemic, frontman Matty Healy and his bandmates began writing the band’s fifth release in 2021. The album’s creation led to the collaboration of pop music megaproducer and writer Jack Antonoff, frontman of The Bleachers who has worked with Taylor Swift, Lorde, Lana Del Rey and more.

Despite Antonoff’s six Grammy Awards and renowned catalog, the decision to work with him in 2022 brings risks. Antonoff’s writing and indie influences have dominated pop music, but many argue it is time for pop artists to move on and push the pop landscape in a new direction.

Knowing this, Healy made the smart decision to maintain creative control over the creative process.

“People may think it’s ‘uncool’ to work with the biggest producer in the world – I don’t give a f—,” Healy said to Pitchfork in August. “I want to make a great f–g record.”

“Being Funny in a Foreign Language” highlights the sounds the band has mastered since its debut in 2013. The band ditches some of their distinctive synths like the ones heard in their massive hit “Somebody Else” and instead turns inward and raw, creating a live-feeling album that sounds as if they’re performing at a prom or wedding.

The album was teased with four singles, “Part of the Band,” “Happiness,” “I’m in Love with You” and “All I Need to Hear.” The total tracklist boasts 11 new songs that sound like love songs for the misunderstood, reminding us that love is one of the few things that links us as humans.

The album starts the same way the other four do, but not exactly. Similar to every album from the band, it opens with the self-titled track “The 1975”– a new rendition of the same song. 

For the second album in a row, The 1975 broke tradition and created a new song with new lyrics. The new intro features the bar “I’m sorry if you’re livin’ and you’re seventeen”– repeated as the instrumental fades out.

Next is the standout single “Happiness,” which is as bright as its title portrays. Here, the band doubles down on everything that is The 1975 and celebrates themselves in a fun, dance-worthy jam session.

The following highlight is “Looking for Somebody (To Love),” which features some of Healy’s relevant lyrics that have helped bring the band to fame: a song about guns, toxic masculinity and the lack of guidance for young men. The results are an upbeat, sarcastic story about an incel trying to find love in all the wrong ways.

Production on the album feels minimalistic — stripped back from arena-rocking anthems and replaced with sonically-full production — with every sound pouring out of speakers with its own distinction. The 80s saxophone, Antonoff’s piano, Healy’s vocals and everything else coexists evenly, allowing listeners to lose themselves across the soundwaves.

Additionally, “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” features some of Healy’s most introspective and earnest lyrics despite the simplistic approach to the album.

Healy sings about his experiences with public backlash on “Human Too,” which is refreshingly different from the typical discourse on the topic, which often devolves into “cancel culture.” 

Healy takes some accountability and sings about empathy with lines including, “I’m sorry that I quite liked seeing myself on the news, and I’m sorry that I’m someone that I wish I could change.”

“Being Funny in a Foreign Language” celebrates almost a decade that the band has been on top of the pop- rock charts by recreating the sounds that worked best for them and showing the band’s improvement as lyricists. 

The record’s short runtime of 44 minutes flies by, leaving listeners smiling at their surroundings and finding new ways to love the wonders of the world.