Track Review | ‘The Birthday Party’ by The 1975

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Image from NME.com

I’m going to be honest: as much as I love The 1975, I have no idea what to expect from this album. Like, there’s nothing they’ve released so far that I’ve hated but there has only been one song I can actually say I liked on the first listen. But at the same time there is a warmth to these songs that I think only really came across in something like Sincerity is Scary on the last record. There was something chaotic and disconnected in the last album that has fascinated me with every listen through but this record is shaping up to have a very different sound.

While I was definitely on the fence for this album for the last couple of releases, I think now that there are more songs I’m starting to get a feel for what they are trying to do and, like I’ve said before, they are a band that work best when they write whole albums. Some of the early releases seem to fit better now that I have more songs to surround them with–with the exception of People. I still have no idea how that song is going to fit into the album.

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Matty Healy talks, in an interview with Zane Lowe, about how there is a randomness to the album because it was created while they were promoting their last record and were travelling all over the world while putting it together.

There’s something dreamlike in this song, whether that’s purely the instrumentation or the way Healy delivers the lyrics, but I find myself agreeing with Healy’s view that the song is almost like a response to the last album’s theme. The phone has been put away–much like in the beginning of this video–and now Healy has to look around at where he is in the world and what his thoughts are.

So far this seems like a very soft record–definitely a vibe–with a lot of vulnerability. There isn’t anything too sharp in terms of instruments and there is even filters on the vocals that make them sink a bit into the background. There’s more acoustic guitar and some beautiful strings in this song. There are layered vocals that swell and fade.

The soundscape of this song really drew me in if nothing else. I remember the second time I was listening to it I realized there was a banjo in part of it–or at least they’ve done something funky with the guitar–which I wasn’t expecting from this band. I like that they’re still finding ways to surprise me.

Rating: 2.5/5

I spent some time trying to figure out how I feel about this song and the truth is I’m not sure about it (you can probably pick that up in how I’ve tried to write some thoughts about it). There’s nothing particularly bad about it, in fact I think it does a good job of being the kind of song it wants to be, but it’s not the song for me. It’s grown on me a bit from the first time I heard it but not enough for me to believe I’ll like it more in the future.

But who knows? Maybe the album will finally come out and I’ll understand why this song needed to be there and I’ll love it in context. But for now I’ll have to pass on this one.

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