Music

Neon Pink Cynicism: the 1975’s I Like It When You Sleep… Review

It was a frigid February morning and I was huddled with my sister on Orchard Street trying to soak in sunlight to combat the unforgiving wind. I had only been standing there for about 20 minutes, but she and her friends had been on the street since 2AM counting down the moments. We barely noticed when the car pulled up at the curb and the 1975 rolled out, all retro fringe and rockstar shades. Screams erupted as Matty Healy pulled off his sunglasses and sniffed the frozen air, “Oi, it’s blazin’ out here!”

Pop-Up Line-Up

 

Some 15 minutes later we were inside the LES gallery space rented for their one-day pop-up, a well-kept secret to promote their brand new album: I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. My sister had hunted down the address only hours before she arrived on the scene, and now some two hundred fans were lining the adjacent blocks waiting for their turn to buy the new music and meet their idols. The bare brick walls were hung with neon signs spelling out new album tracks, and brightly-colored photographs in stark white frames played on lyrical themes. Nothing could stop me now: I was going to buy the boxed set. I had almost preordered it originally, instantly attracted by the neon-pink lucite casing and the idea of exclusive 7” singles, but the price tag seemed steep—now that I had a chance at an autographed copy of the LP, it seemed well worth it.
Bubble-wrap trailed out of my pockets as I ascended the back stairway, barely registering the photographs hung along the hall. My eyes had barely adjusted to life in neon pink when I realized this was no formal record signing meet-and-greet. The minimal loft space had been converted into a sort of listening lounge, with a well-worn black leather sofa totally abandoned as the band wandered free, chatting with fans, taking selfies, sharpie-ready for autographs. Each wall held massive prints of album artwork, including the neon sign spelling out the impossibly long album title, coating everything with a candy-colored glow. I barely registered the upbeat Haim song piped in as I embarked on my signature-collecting mission, LP clutched tightly and phone camera-ready in pocket. At one point, I found myself nervously chatting to Ross MacDonald about the album, admitting I had listened to it on loop since it had leaked a couple days earlier. “It’s a bit all-over-the-place, don’t you think?” He asked with a certain degree of concern in his voice.
I Like It When You Sleep...
At first listen, it is. The band’s now-signature, self-titled opener is given a brighter, chorus-driven vocal, turning it from sort of sleepy to deliberately dreamy before launching straight into the retro-funky Love Me. The transition from swelling synth and slow vocal to Bowie-Chic guitar is a little jarring, but maybe intentional considering the dialog proposed by the leading single’s lyrics. That said, Love Me remains among my favorite tracks on the album: aside from the obvious musical similarities, the lyrics read like a Millenial Fame, equally cynical in a new age language. It’s the same cynicism that pervades songs like Change of Heart, which feels like the disillusioned follow-up to their self-titled LP’s the City. It’s the falling-out-of-love story after the romance of Robbers dies–
“You used to have a face straight out of a magazine
Now you just look like anyone

I just had a change of heart
I feel as though I was deceived
I never found love in the city
I just sat in self-pity and cried in the car”
But it’s not all twenty-something bitterness and upset. One of the album’s standouts is the ethereal, choral-driven This Must Be My Dream,  an upbeat, synth-pop plea of adolescent optimism that simply sticks with you. Like She’s American and the Sound, it’s got a catchy, danceable beat that distracts you from the admittedly garbled, Manchesterese lyrics long enough that you might be surprised by the actual words:
“You got excited and now you find out that your ‘girl’
won’t even get you undressed or care about your beating chest”
Personally, I think the album might have been better ending on the following track, Paris. The relaxed, nostalgic vibe is a pleasant wind-down from some of the album’s quicker-paced tracks without bringing down the mood or inducing sleep–but the band continues with two additional tunes. Nana and She Lays Down are both absolutely heartbreaking, tragic songs backed by a simple acoustic guitar, bringing the album to a strange, unsettling end. If they had been anywhere else, I might be able to overlook the general air of melancholy peppered through the record’s more electronic tracks. Concentrated at the end, however, it’s an unavoidable fact: this is kind of a really sad album. It tells stories about lost identities, painful breakups, faith questioned, and deaths faced. But when wrapped in a package of synthesizers and pop guitar riffs, they seem almost idyllic. There’s a romance to the kind of jaded cynicism the 1975 is peddling—a kind of absurdist idealism.
While the musical style does jump from chill out groove to new generation funk to acoustic heartbreak ballad, the mood of I Like It When You Sleep… makes it a logical follow-up to the band’s 2013 EP. If the 1975 was about sex and drugs and making memories with friends, I Like It When You Sleep… is about facing the world after teenage dreams begin to melt away. You might not know who you are, you might not recognize your relationships, you might even lose the people closest to you, but you can be damned stylish and look good doing it.
A Morning Well Spent
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Reviews

Keep On Spinning: the Edit Review

As an early Millennial, I’ve watched a lot of technology rise and fall. My first computer was a simple DOS system, I can recite every Windows update in chronological order from 1990, and the sound of dial-up still haunts my dreams. As a life-long audiophile, I remember the thrill of finally owning my own portable CD player, realizing I was no longer limited to the narrow selection of bulky cassettes my parents kept in the car, even if the disc did skip every time we hit a bump. Stalking out the new CD singles was a weekend ritual, and finding a Sam Goody gift card tucked into a birthday card was like winning the lottery. Mp3s offered relief from the clutter of all those jewel cases, but I’ve always liked to keep physical copies of my favorite albums: like precious art objects, there’s something sacred to the physical record of a song. The grooves and pits of the recording are like a fingerprint of the artist.
That said, while I’d always been intrigued by the stack of Stones’ and Beatles’ albums my parents left to collect dust and the massive stack of 7” disco singles my grandmother had acquired through the years, I’d never really experienced vinyl. I collected a couple of my favorite albums as I found them in thrift stores or garage sales—ChangesOneBowie, Rebel Yell, Bloodflowers—but as my technologically gung-ho family tossed whatever they deemed dated, I had no way to really listen to them. And in a gesture that seems all too popular in my generation, I eschewed modern convenience for nostalgia by purchasing only a portable turntable to set the musical mood of my apartment. Little did I realize when I bought myself a used copy of First and Last and Always for just pennies more than my morning latte that I was about to have something like a Religious Experience of the Ears. It was an album I’d heard literally hundreds of times in various formats—CD, mp3, even recorded off someone else’s stereo on a cassette—but I’d never heard the depth of tone or richness that I was getting from this piece of carved-up plastic that was older than me. I was moved by nuances I’d never even noticed before, all channeled out of barely-there speakers in a device that looked like a briefcase. Clearly, this piece of plastic was something magical, and I fully intended to root out more.
turn, baby, turn
Luckily, vinyl is coming back. Like film photography and Super-8 video, there’s been a such a surge in interest that companies are starting to press records again. Hell, even Barnes and Noble has a section devoted to vinyl LPs. But what if you’re not looking for the new Adele album or an overpriced Elvis reissue? Where do you get your fix?
Enter the Edit. One part subscription service, one part personal shopper, the Edit is a daily text service that brings you a new, handpicked album or set with every message. How do they know what to suggest? Well, when you sign up, you’re asked to rate popular albums after providing your mobile number–the more albums you rate, the better the suggestions. Don’t worry, the rating process is more like Tinder than Consumer Report, and a simple swipe left or right tells the Edit all it needs to know. But don’t be discouraged if you still get some unpalatable choices–you can respond back to any text with a simple “LIKE” or “DISLIKE,” and the Edit logs that info. And if you don’t like something, you’re given the opportunity to request something else. I’ve snagged releases from Depeche Mode, remastered double LPs from the Cure, and a boxed collection of Floodland-era releases from the Sisters of Mercy.
Collection, Part I
Recently, the Edit offered up a double LP recording from Peter Murphy’s Wild Birds tour—needless to say, I jumped on it. I texted “yes” and got my confirmation, but hours later received another text saying my order was cancelled due to inventory issues. Disappointing, but I figured it just wasn’t meant to be. The next day, I woke up to a text saying they had gotten in a new shipment if I was still interested in ordering. This time, I my order was cancelled less than an hour after it was placed. Honestly, I was a little put off—why offer me something twice only to tell me I couldn’t have it? When my phone chimed the next day, I was surprised to see an apology and a credit for my troubles with the service. They explained that there had been an issue with their shipment and they didn’t want to sell defective product. Returns are free, but who wants the heartbreak of a broken record? Within the week, however, I received another offer for the elusive Wild Birds Live album, and my order was processed and shipped without cancellation. The marble-white double LP set was well worth the wait, and the Edit more than made up for the frustration of their back-end issues.
birds2
Whether you’re a newly-initiated vinyl enthusiast looking to expand your library or a seasoned collector seeking out the newest releases, the Edit is a fun, easy service with plenty to offer. There’s no obligation to purchase, though I can’t promise you won’t be incredibly tempted at least twice a week. The Edit’s texts have become a highlight of my day—with seemingly endless resources for inventory and intelligence, there’s always something interesting to offer. Go ahead–ask the Edit to track down that album you’ve been stalking out, or let them help you find your new favourite record. It’s quickly become my favourite subscription service, and with no membership fees or recurring charges, it’s one of my wallet’s favourites too!
Full disclosure: I have not been compensated to promote the Edit in any way, but if you like what you hear and sign up using one of the links above, I receive referral credit which helps me bring you more music- and vinyl-related content on the regular!
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