The 1975's eclectic, political "End of An Era" album: one tedious attempt at ambition and virtuosity after another. Matt Healy and company experiment with many identities, throwing ideas at the wall to see what fits. That's fine, but rarely does the content ever translate into anything but a musical hodgepodge.
Of course, do take all reviews/interpretations of 'Notes' with a grain of salt. The 1975 has always been a band that's divided fans and critics alike, and always will. The likelihood of you, fellow listener, liking vs. disliking this is a coin toss. This is nothing new.
With 'Notes', it's important to address the big elephant in the room: all the musical comparisons to acts like Radiohead, Coldplay, Burial, Jon Hopkins, etc. These comparisons are quite misleading, and frankly, annoy the heck out of me. Not only cause the records and artists in question hardly share any similarities with Notes, but because the band's intention from the start was not to simply wear their influences on their sleeves. Yes, The 1975 have clutched many influences from different, rather intriguing avenues of rock and electronic music to piece together this record, but it's to be expected when one's greeted with a self-indulgent, grand rock album comprising of 22 songs and 80+ minutes of content.
For better and for worse, Notes sees the incorporation of many elements from other musicians' works to attempt at crafting something of their own, purely The 1975. Again, the effort is rather admirable, but doesn't cover up for the evident flaws in the band's poorly assembled compositions, at least in its full studio album form. The source isn't the record's messy presentation (some albums are messy in arrangement but come out just as effective and impactful). The problem stems from the immense lack of backbone for a concept album supposedly conscious and socially aware. The record simply trails off, the latter half of the tracklisting hardly satisfying the content established in the opener and "People". The singles prove polarizing enough to sit through, but their comparatively colourful instrumentation and exuberance feels sorely needed in an album frequently devoid of it in its execution. It delivers much potential kicking off, at least in the instrumental department, but the band's frail state of direction quickly transforms tolerable, musically fascinating pop-rock hits into unfortunate, derivative rubbish.
Notes on a Conditional Form plays out like those horse trolley rides they used to offer to locals in my hometown. As a child, I always thought it was the shit and really wanted to ride on one of them. When I finally got the chance to hop on that fine piece of primitive white folk technology, of course, I'd been jumping with joy, expecting the best ride ever. At first, it warmed my little 8-year-old heart, then I'd start to realize just how slow we'd been going, it'd take forever to go anywhere. Then, occasionally, one horse tries to take a shit by the side of the road, but gets constipated. The stench of the manure stunk like hell. I'd cover my face, but all the elderly folks on the ride would mock me. We'd get blank cold death stares from confused and disgusted big city tourists passing us by on the road in their fancy BMW M3s. And just like that, a gross 2 hours of my life wasted.
FAV TRACKS: Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied, Me & You Together Song, If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know), Frail State of Mind, People
LEAST FAV TRACKS: Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy), Yeah I Know, What Should I Say, Having No Head, Bagsy Not In Met