The 1975 strut and preen like pop rockers from the Eighties
Hey, what gives, fellas? INXS and Duran Duran weren’t around in 1975. This ascendant U.K. quartet ground their second album in sleek dance rock that often feels like it was sculpted on a gaudy Eighties budget as the bandmates tried hard not to get too sweaty in their aqua-neon sport jackets. No shame in that – and they do it well, filtering in elements of spacy ambience (with echoes of acts from My Bloody Valentine to M83), Jacksonian R&B and arty dance pop. At times, the vibe approximates what might have happened if Michael Hutchence had stuck around long enough to make a record with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy in the producer’s chair. “Love Me” funkily recalls Nile Rodgers’ splashiest Duran productions; “A Change of Heart” is the John Hughes soundtrack ballad moment. Singer Matthew Healy is a smooth, versatile crooner, going from disco lizard king (the slickly strutting “UGH”) to the Brit-soul buoyancy of “Loving Someone” to the careless whispers of “Paris.”
The album’s rambling, vaguely emo title is a giveaway: Despite opening big, bright and airtight, I Like It When You Sleep … gets boring-melty during dream-gaze reveries like “Please Be Naked” and “Lostmyhead.” Even so, when they hit the right kind of moody sheen (“Somebody Else,” “Loving Someone”), the 1975 are an enjoyable balance of desire and distraction.