Album Review: Being Funny in a Foreign Language

By Elika Kalami

English indie rock band, The 1975 are back with their fifth album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language. With production help from Jack Antanoff, at 44 minutes, the record is the band’s shortest yet most focused one yet. Lead singer Matty Healy finally lets his glamorous love songs take center stage, sharing his group’s new message: maybe love, cliches and all, is truly the answer. With their 80’s guitar grooves, hypnotizing saxophones, and inexplicably good hooks, Being Funny creates a refreshing, accessible sound for its new listeners while staying familiar to previous 1975 fans. As a major fan of the band since their sophomore album, I decided to listen to Being Funny in its entirety and share my opinions of each track. Here’s how it all went down:

“The 1975” –  7/10

The album begins with “The 1975,” which is the beginner for each of their albums. However, contrary to their earlier work, this rendition of the song had a completely different approach. The previous four included elements that gave listeners a peek into the new album’s overall sound; this opener features a variety of instruments and some of Healy’s darker lyrics, demonstrating the band’s musical mastery and lyrical skills. While I appreciated the new approach, I have to admit I, was a little disappointed when this opener broke the cycle. “The 1975” didn’t particularly catch my attention like some of their other songs, but I enjoyed its creativity and authenticity nonetheless. 

“Happiness” – 10/10 

Released on August 3 as the album’s second single, “Happiness” immediately became one of my favorite songs of the year. Its cheery dance floor beat and lyrics confirm the song’s title; every time I listen to it, I truly feel like I’m joyfully dancing on top of the world. The song is reminiscent of some of their old albums, such as I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, while also perfecting a glistering pop sound unlike any of their other work. I absolutely love this track in its entirety, and it’s probably one of my most-listened songs this year. 

“Looking For Somebody (To Love)” – 10/10 

Following the upbeat “Happiness” is another cheery tune, “Looking for Somebody (To Love),” except this time, there is an exceptionally noticeable difference. The song covers the sensitive topic of school shootings from various different perspectives, allowing the listeners to connect with the song as if they were hearing a story. The juxtaposition of the song’s cheery tune and its underlying meaning is so intriguing and excellently executed. While this song is among the more difficult to listen to, it is easily one of my favorite ones on the album. 

“Part Of The Band” – 7/10

The 1975 chose this track as their first single and sneak peek into the Being Funny era. While my expectations were incredibly high, I felt a little conflicted about whether or not I actually enjoyed this song. It took me a few tries to warm up to it, but I am now better able to see the appeal of its sincere lyrics and sarcastic messages. While I typically skip over this song, I still rate it a 7/10 for its enchanting chorus and features from singers such as Michelle Zauner and Jack Antanoff. 

“Oh Caroline” – 9/10 

In “Oh Caroline,” The 1975 approached the pop genre like never before. The obvious love song has a catchy tune and chorus that you can’t help but belt out to. Its synths, combined with Matty’s earnest lyrics, create a loving atmosphere that also reminds me of their older songs. It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s groovy – it makes you truly wish you, too, had a “Caroline” to sing about. 

“I’m In Love With You” – 9/10

Even when their songs reek of cliches, The 1975 clearly has enough direction and talent to pull off yet another catchy love story. “I’m In Love With You” is quite simply a fun-loving, stunning song, and every single element elevates the track. From background vocals by Phoebe Bridgers and the occasional hollers from the rest of the band members, the song perfectly encapsulates the feelings of being in love. The repetitive chorus will always be playing in the back of my mind, and I’ve nothing to complain about. 

“All I Need To Hear” – 8/10 

In Being Funny’s quieter moments, it tells the saddening stories of heartbreak and sincerity. The stripped-down piano ballad, “All I Need To Hear,” is an insanely beautiful track that makes it seem as if we are listening in an intimate space with Matty. A song recorded in only one take, there are honestly no flaws that I could find and criticize. It reminds me of some older songs by The 1975 that also mimic a lullaby-esque sound, such as “She Lays Down” and “Be My Mistake.”

“Wintering” – 5/10

Differing from their other tracks’ common love theme, “Wintering” takes on a more humorous approach as it tells the fictional tale of a man returning home for the Christmas season. Matty perfectly encapsulates the common discomforts that accompany some family events as he sings about funny character anecdotes and observations. While the story in itself is interesting, I’m personally not a fan of how the song is musically structured. There’s no element that really sticks out to me, and “Wintering” will likely be a track that I’ll skip. 

“Human Too” – 6/10

A more tender moment, “Human Too,” is another piano ballad that covers the themes of weakness, fragility, and acceptance. The echoes in the background of the song make it seem haunted, and the piano bridge is just enchanting. This song is simple and warming; although it is incredibly well-produced, it just isn’t one of the more memorable tracks of the album. 

“About You” – 10/10 

The sweeping, dreamy “About You” instantly became one of my favorite songs. Labeled by the band as a musical continuation of “Robbers,” one of the band’s best songs from their debut, the song stirs you into life and lifts you off your feet. There is a distinguishing sense of beauty found here that I only find in songs made by The 1975. Listening to this reminded me of everything I love and appreciate about my favorite band, including their ability to create this glowing whirlwind of song. “About You” might even be the heart of Being Funny, as I’ve noticed many fellow fans agree with. The track also welcomes the captivating voice of Carly Holt, wife of the band’s guitarist, Adam Hann. I definitely recommend a night of driving and basking in the street lights as you blast this song in the background. 

“When We Are Together” – 6.5/10

A slight step down from “About You,” this track follows the story of a struggling couple that ultimately needs to be together to get along. The chorus pulls from folk songs with its string progressions, and Matty yet again enters some humorous cultural commentary in his lyrics. This last track of the album is honestly nothing special, but an enjoyable tune nonetheless. 

Nothing can measure up to the moment I first discovered The 1975 in sixth grade and had my brain chemistry permanently altered. As I aged, the band and their musical projects aged alongside me. I had been looking forward to Being Funny In a Foreign Language for months beforehand, and I’m overall pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The album is masterfully composed from start to finish, and I can’t wait for their future projects. Bravo, The 1975!