If you set out to create a two part album, perhaps the first consideration must be if you can produce enough songs to fill a track list without falling back on endless fillers.
To call the album experimental is to ignore that many of the instrumental tracks offer nothing new in innovation, for The 1975 or music generally. We’ve seen these build ups and gentle, plodding notes before, but in previous albums the band had the good sense to put a tinge of effort into lyrics, and in creating an interesting body of work. With consecutive fillers and blatant rip-offs, this album feels a far cry from any intelligent experimentation we saw with earlier albums, and instead resembles a lazy, illusorily-flamboyant parade of arrogance.
Stand-out tracks include ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ and ‘Me & You Together Song’; singles that fans have already heard. Though the latter is perhaps the most fleshed-out track we hear, a listener can’t help but wonder if this is only in comparison to the influx of more underwhelming tracks. If an album full of similar songs had been released, we might understand the decision to release a two-part piece of art. As is stands, the tracks do not do enough to elevate the other forgettable instrumentals.
All allusions to the self-titled album and earlier tracks feel like a slap in the face, rather than an endearing Easter egg for fans. ‘Roadkill’ references “if you don’t eat you’ll never grow” and “if you don’t shoot then you’ll never know”, and the song itself holds up to tracks from earlier bodies of work. However, the allusions only work to remind us who The 1975 used to be, with early songs that garnered huge impact and an endearing appeal, despite their simplicity. Now, this otiose simplicity seems born rather of apathy.
For old fans of The 1975, NOACF confirms the band’s slow detachment from those consuming their music, and a sharp regression into a deep wallowing of narcissism and ego-stroking. Rectangle visuals in videos seem a desperate attempt to cling on to an identity obfuscated by a growing intolerability of communication, and disregard for musical depth.