It’s here, The 1975’s fourth studio album, Notes On A Conditional Form, or NOACF for short, dropped this week to much anticipation. As a general fan of Matty Healy and the boys myself, I was highly excited for the drop of this massive 22 song album. I was hoping it was going to be as awesome as the critically acclaimed album ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ prior. Here I take you through my track by track review, rating each song as fairly as possible out of 10 and making general notes, mind the pun. As with anything from The 1975, they divide opinion, almost intentionally and we learn to expect the unexpected, and this album definitely follows suit. So let’s get into it, this is my review of ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’.
- The 1975 - 7/10
The opening track, self titled as always, is expected to be an introduction sound to the album, however this time it had a special guest, Greta Thunberg. The young German protester makes an empowering speech about the world and the climate problems we face on the opening track, opening the album with the bands usual trends of political stances. The speech is moving however the music behind is pretty simplistic and it is definitely not a song you would choose to listen to. The meanings also become somewhat ironic later in the album.
2. People - 8/10
Powerful, both musically and in the message it conveys. This song is everything it is supposed to be. Lands perfectly after the first track, blasting into your head to deliver the message it should. It most certainly does make you wake up.
3. The End - 7/10
'The End' provides us with a really powerful piece of music which conveys the journey the 1975 have made. However, I would argue that it is not really needed on the album and is in-fact just an extra track that may be better suited to an EP.
4. Frail State Of Mind - 8/10
Nothing much wrong with this song at all, a very relatable song and has a real nice beat and rhythm to it, lyrics are spot on.
5. Streaming - 7/10
I can't lie at first I thought this song was pointless. That was until I realised the beautiful tranition into Birthday Party. I have ended up loving 'Streaming' due to it showing us something which definitely isn't done enough in modern music.
6. The Birthday Party - 8/10
This is just so simple musically but is almost narrative like, so meaningful and almost feels like you’re following a story, or he’s just reading it.
7. Yeah I Know - 5/10
The use of what I think are mouse clicks, pretty much sums up the modern world. Pick a card, opening line, chance, that’s life really. Apart from that, pretty lyrically flat, and nothing really grabs me about this one. Unfortunately gets annoying after a while.
8. Then Because She Goes - 6/10
Classic Indie Rock, a subtle nod back to their roots and the first album, lyrically nothing special, almost hard to hear in places and can be repetitive, big fan of the music on this one though.
9. Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America - 8/10
Really grown on me since the first few listens, some great play on words and it has a beautiful stripped back sound to it which fits the powerful and fantastic message, linking to loneliness because of sexuality and religion, a great collaboration too, which gives two perspectives, a key to the story.
10. Roadkill - 9/10
Guitar tones and beat to this are fantastic. Some real great metaphors about life, narrative like again, have to say this is turning into one of my favourites.
11. Me & You Together Song - 7/10
The vibe to this song is fantastic, great to move to, cheers you up. Unfortunately the lyrics let it down quite a lot in places, sounds like a basic pop song about young love.
12. I Think There’s Something You Should Know - 7/10
Not what I was expecting when I read the title, almost like Matty talks to himself, something many people do and about what many people relate to. Seems to go a bit flat in the middle, lack of lyrics and the track becomes somewhat repetitive, picks up again and becomes crammed with words, but it works, fits a mental narrative about mental health and self doubt, works very well.
13. Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied - 9/10
Great title, I have to say. Some gentle piano to open with before you get hit with a gospel choir, and then into some great little drum beats and a narrative on life struggles. There is so much variation in this song, but the message is powerful, this is purely what the 1975 are about, something unexpected, meaningful and amazing.
14. Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy) - 7/10
Odd start, not sure on the auto tuned six year old. Redeemed itself with the drop, and becomes a decent song, but nothing special, just your average 1975 song. There’s some nice lyrics in here, and that gains it it’s higher mark, just never really gets going, just like I say an average song, not bad, but not brilliant.
15. Shiny Collarbone - 4/10
Sounds like a bass bumping song you’d hear in a shit Jamaican bar, when is the Sean Paul Collab gonna begin on this track? This seems like a song for a songs sake, the album is long enough already, and I don’t think this really needed to be on it. Becomes even worse at the end, sounds like Matty became Jamaican whilst he was on acid.
16. If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know) - 9/10
The best song on the album and out of the singles, very uplifting beat and guitar riffs to this, lyrically is fantastic, great message for many people who will listen to this song and album, targeted perfectly. What’s not to like?
17. Playing On My Mind - 8/10
Another nice gentle acoustic song, and nice relaxed song well placed after the previous single. Fabulously written. 'Playing on my Mind' offers questions about life and thoughts many people have; keeps in a running theme on mental health and mental state there seems to be through the album. This is definitely something that shows Matty Healey’s talent and something he’s best at.
18. Having No Head - 3/10
A 6 minute song I’m 2 minutes into and still haven’t heard anything interesting. Similar to Shiny Collarbone, it’s become a bass track, not what the 1975 are or ever should be, on an album that some might say is already too long. I’m not sure it really needs to be here; it's just 6 minutes for no reason. Interesting The 1975 chose to go for Greta Thunberg and go for no plastic on the album yet added an excessive number of songs and ones like this that take up extra plastic for no reason at all. Worse than Shiny Collarbone because that was something different (and didn’t last 6 minutes).
19. What Should I Say - 5/10
Lyrically repetitive, sounds like a pop song you’d hear on capital radio which is not what they’re about. Waiting for Sean Paul to pipe up again, or maybe Bieber. It’s an interesting listen and isn’t particularly bad, but compared to some of the great stuff on here it’s nothing to be proud of boys.
20. Bagsy Not In Net - 6/10
I love this title, made me smile as soon as I saw it before I even listened, reminds me of my childhood personally. Judging by the lyrics seemingly about a failed relationship, is this a play on not being a ‘keeper’, if so I love it. Never really went anywhere, disappointed in a way.
21. Don’t Worry - 7/10
The combinations of vocals here and use of different pitches is very effective, it’s becoming a nice relaxing end to the album, after an odd run of songs. Lyrics seem meaningful and the simplicity of this song is more interesting and entertaining than the odd tracks prior. Power through simplicity is something they are so good at and should stick to, this was a perfect example of this.
22. Guys - 8/10
It’s been a rollercoaster. That refers to the album and the story of this band so far I have to say. After 22 tracks, let’s be honest there didn’t need to be that many, but they’ve gone for it and we have to stay with that, we needed a good ending. I personally think they delivered. This wraps up the album and this journey perfectly. The release of this single was perfectly timed due to the pandemic and it’s got some really power to it about relationships and the connection this band have. Nailed it with this one, even if it doesn’t seem to grab you at first.
Overall - 7/10
Overall the album scored a mean score of 7/10 over the average song ratings, and I think that may be about right. This is definitely an album that will take a few listens to come to grips with and I imagine it will grow on myself and many others. The main criticism comes form the excess of songs, some tracks I feel didn’t bring anything to the album as a whole, but there are some real great ones on there and I feel the overall theme and message is greatly empowering and the band certainly delivered.
Words by Ben Curry