The 1975 - NOACF Album Review
By Cameron Cade
The idea of the cutting room floor is an important one when creating any sort of large-scale creative project like an album. You can’t put every single idea you have into one project otherwise you don’t get the chance to refine the ideas you have. The 1975 seemingly forgot how to do that with their latest album, clocking in at a whopping 80 minute run time with 22 tracks; leaving this album feeling bloated and full of unnecessary filler. The most frustrating part about this album is that it contains some of the group’s best songs, yet they are completely undermined by the more boring, unnecessary, and repetitive tracks.
My biggest gripe with this album is the overlong runtime, making the album feel like a bloated mess that accentuates the other problems this album has, such as the lack of cohesion between tracks. A lot of the tracks on this album feel completely distant and separate from each other, which is annoying when the same band released a pretty great concept album in 2018.
They start off strong with the instrumental track 'The 1975,' which includes a speech performed by environmental activist Greta Thunberg in a desperate plea to listeners about the desperate state of our environment. She ends her speech with “it is time to rebel” kicking straight into the explosive punk track 'People'. Easily the best track on the album, this song is heavy, brooding and encourages you to get angry. This track and the intro that came before feel the most cohesive and the most separate from the rest of the album. The two songs flow together leaving you with a smile on your face, ready for a revolution.
The pace of the album is then brought to a screeching halt by the first of the filler instrumentals and has difficulty finding it’s footing after that. 'The Birthday Party' is the first track where it feels like the album starts to find its pace again. This upbeat, folk- style track deals with drug use and seems to be a reflection on frontman Healy’s time before and during rehab. Healy's soft and bouncy vocals help make this track feel like you're in a trance.
'If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)' is another great track from the album, embracing the synth-pop that the band are famous for with songs like 'Girls'. Featuring an undeniably cheesy but infectious sax solo, this song really feels like it should have been a bombastic end to the album rather than placed haphazardly in the middle.
The true album exists somewhere in the middle of this one. Beginning at 'The Birthday Party' and ending at 'If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)'. Everything else feels like it was all cutting room floor material. This isn’t to say that the stuff surrounding this section is worse in any way, I definitely prefer the instrumental 'The End (Music for Cars)' and 'Shiny Collarbone' to tracks such as 'Then Because She Goes' which feel like a generic mix of the stuff on the bands first album and early 2000s soft rock. The point is that the runtime and number of tracks mean there are many tracks that feel like they should not be in the same album together.
This album is extremely frustrating for me, because The 1975 are a band that I consider to be one of the best on the charts at the moment, especially after their previous album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The reason I brought up the cutting room floor at the beginning is that a lot of the problems this album has could have been fixed with a shorter album, leading to more precise picks on what the band wanted us to hear, cutting the filler and improving the listener experience.
Whether a fan of this band or not; Notes On A Conditional Form is likely going to be a "pick and choose” album for many people rather than one you’ll want to listen all the way through. Its obnoxious length and unbearable filler would be difficult to handle listening to multiple times. Also, go back and listen to A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, I promise it's still as good.