★★★½ of 5
Depending on how you look at it, Notes on a Conditional Form — The 1975’s latest album — is either a celebration of musical diversity…or the perfect embodiment of the band’s lack of musical direction. For the most part, the album feels like a collection of songs that people from the noughties would cram together and burn to a blank CD.
If you don’t know how that 2000–2009 decade felt like, don’t worry. The 1975 makes sure you would know with their latest album.
Notes on a Conditional Form is hardly the band’s best album; that honor belongs to I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It. But what NOACF lacks in coherence it makes up for in raw, confessional honesty. But while Matty Healy’s lyrics aim for naked candor through the frontman’s usual unfiltered glory, NOACF dials up the anxiety and restlessness and juxtaposes them with industrial beats and grooves. This is evident in a number of songs in the album, particularly “Frail State of Mind” and “Bagsy Not in Net.”
All in all, while we are treated to a generally head-scratching record underscored by a marked departure in from the band’s previous sound (house and trip hop music proliferate the album), we are also provided with an exercise in nostalgia thanks to its killer songs offsetting the frustrating fillers.
One thing is for certain: With a catalog of songs that sounds more like a ‘Various Artists’ album than a band with a defined musical identity, Notes on a Conditional Form is the quintessential record tailor-made for today’s variety- and diversity-seeking generation.
“If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”
“Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied”
“Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)”