The 1975’s ‘BFIAFL’ makes “an aesthetic out of not doing well”


Courtesy of the 1975

‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’ is a classic The 1975 album while also diverging from their usual style.

Pravar Mukkala, Co-Managing Editor

80s-style guitars, catchy choruses, cutting lyrics about how modernity has failed us but how love can save us: you can find all of the classic catchphrases of the band The 1975 in their new album Being Funny in a Foreign Language. It is the most cohesive of the band’s five albums and the shortest by far. The 11 songs on it are characterized by lush piano, infectious guitar tunes, and of course, lead singer Matty Healy’s strong vocals.

Released on Oct. 14, Being Funny differs from the rest of the band’s albums as it was mainly recorded live; computers were barely used while the album was being made. Although The 1975 usually produce their albums themselves, for Being Funny, they collaborated with Jack Antonoff. Antonoff is famous for working with artists like Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, and Lorde, and is the frontman of the band Bleachers. Regardless of the divergence from the band’s electropop and synth-pop origins, the alt pop and rock Being Funny exceeds expectations.

The album starts off with an insightful and dramatic track titled “The 1975”. Singing over staccatoed and energetic pianos and strings, Healy delivers intense lyrics such as “I’m feelin’ apathetic after scrollin’ through hell” (alluding to today’s culture of unaffectedly scrolling through social media) and “You’re makin’ an aesthetic out of not doin’ well” (alluding to the tendencies of many to romanticize their problems). These themes of both serious and lighthearted modern-day problems are peppered throughout the album, especially in the song “Part of the Band”; the presence of them is reminiscent of the band’s previous album Notes on a Conditional Form (2018).

However, the entirety of Being Funny does not focus on societal struggles. Much of the album, like most pop music today, is heavily centered on themes of love and pain after heartbreak. For example, in the swinging pop song and instantaneous fan favorite “Oh Caroline”, Healy belts about how he cannot live without “Caroline”. Who, or what, is Caroline? As is fitting for a song from this band, we can only theorize. “Oh Caroline” is one of many songs from Being Funny that makes you tap your foot or nod your head; other songs like this include “Happiness”, “I’m in Love With You”, and “Looking for Somebody (to Love)”.

In the penultimate song on the record, “About You”, Healy’s voice is all but drowned out by rich orchestral production; however, when collaborator Carly Holt starts singing during the bridge, the song clears up entirely, providing a break before the song tears forward into a dark and lush outro once more. “About You” illustrates what this band can actually do: the beautiful production, Healy’s resonant vocals, and the melancholy lyrics all make this song one of the best the band has ever made.

The folk-pop tune “When We Are Together” closes off the journey of Being Funny in a Foreign Language. The song is a classic The 1975 song—one that ends the album in a lighter way, but still delivers when it comes to lyrics. In fact, the lyrics, which Healy croons over guitar and violins, are exceptionally evocative of those of Swift or Phoebe Bridgers, both of whom are amazing lyricists.

Ultimately, Being Funny has been one of my favorite releases of 2022. Its style is special to The 1975; although it is a pop and rock album by definition, Being Funny in a Foreign Language is much more than that. It is an ode to the importance of love, and an acknowledgement of the world’s shortcomings. As the album fades into its last seconds, the piano and strings of the first song start anew. This album is not a journey meant to be taken once; it is an eye-opening, visceral, heartwarming, hurting journey that all of us live through continuously.