Inside The 1975’s album release NYC pop-up shop

Rising British band The 1975 released their second studio album today, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. A mouthful, I know; apparently that’s something frontman Matthew Healy said to an ex-girlfriend. Anyway, to celebrate their new LP, The 1975 hosted a pop-up shop in New York City and I was there to take in all the excitement surrounding the anticipated release.

The pop-up shop had been announced days before release day, but the teasery invitation merely stated that it would be located in NYC’s Lower East Side. However, after some online recon it didn’t take long to figure out the not-so-secret destination. At 118 Orchard Street off Delancey, a corner shop was retrofitted to promote I like it when you sleep. Thanks to all glass windows, passersby could easily peer into the shop and see what’s inside. Elegant white and blue flowers rested atop low benches lined up against the windows. Along a starkly white interior wall, three songs from the album were spelled out in bright pink neon lights: “UGH!,” “The Sound,” and “Somebody Else.” Outside, a very long line (which I was told started to form late last night) unwound all the way down the street. There’s a simple explanation for the rabid turnout: The 1975 was there.

When I arrived, the line was still long but moving at a quick pace. To appease the fans who had been waiting for hours on end, free slices of hot pizza were doled out. And then, all of a sudden, Healy and his bandmates popped out onto a scaffolding ledge a couple stories high to grab a quick smoke and wave to the dozens of fans. They even whipped out their cell phones to take pictures of the gathering crowd. It was a fun moment for everyone in line; for those who couldn’t make it inside, at least they got to catch a glimpse!

Inside, I was greeted by a friendly staffer who encouraged me to take pictures in front of the giant neon signs and then make my way to checkout. I ended up snagging the album for five bucks (!) and also left with a cool stencil and bag. And then, after waiting a few minutes for the last group to exit, I was guided upstairs and into a surprisingly intimate space to meet the band. Healy, Adam Hann, George Daniel, and Ross MacDonald were already interacting with fans as I made my way into the room. Adorned on the walls were framed images plucked directly from the album’s booklet, each one representing a different song. Plastered on the far wall in bright pink neon letters was the full album title (this same sign can be seen on the back of the CD jewel case).

Now, this wasn’t your typical meet-and-greet. The band wasn’t gathered together slouched behind a table. No, they were roaming the room individually and on their own accord, interacting with fans by starting up conversations, taking selfies, and signing everything from the album to sneakers and even somebody’s face! As soon as I found an opening, I made introductions with each band member. Since the staffers shuffled fans inside in small groups, this afforded me the opportunity to spend some quality time with them. I could gush for hours, but in brief, I’m happy to report that Healy and company were completely down-to-earth and so appreciative of their present fanbase. There was a palpable feeling of pure love in there as fans shared their collective passion for The 1975’s music. I put my hand out to shake theirs, but they all demanded hugs. I was able to tell them how much their music has positively affected me, and I congratulated them on the release of album number 2. On my way out, Healy asked me if I had listened to the record yet. I said it was my number 1 priority following our hangout. As surreal as it was to meet The 1975, I was so ready to get home, slide on my headphones, and press play.

Leaving the pop up shop was also an affair! As my group cracked open the door to exit, fans in line shouted and clapped for us. It was an enjoyable feeling, having met my favorite band in such an intimate setting and leaving with their new album personalized and signed for me. UGH! That was fun.

As I’m writing this things are still settling in; I quite literally just listened to I like it when you sleep from top to bottom in one session (it clocks in at a whopping 74 minutes!). Still, I will attempt to formulate some initial thoughts on it.

A sophomore slump this is not. In fact, I like it when you sleep is elevated in every way if you’re comparing it to The 1975’s self-titled debut album. Healy’s effervescent vocals and the band’s uncanny ability to switch between genres like thumpy house (“The Sound”) and soft ballads (“She Lays Down”) are feats that do not go unnoticed throughout. At 17 tracks, I like it when you sleep is an ethereal, dream-like listening experience; it’s a seemingly endless trip that gets better and better as it goes on. It’s hard to categorize it. No doubt, The 1975 is an alt-rock band tinged with pop-synth aesthetics. But if their second go-around proves anything it’s that this young group of drug-addled, lovelorn rockers isn’t afraid to experiment with their maturing sound.

I like it when you sleep is available in stores today; order a physical copy at Target–the retailer is selling an exclusive version of the album that includes two bonus tracks. Prefer to download it? iTunes, Amazon, and Google have you covered. Ok, you’re a streamer. For its first week, the album streams exclusively on Apple Music; after that you’ll find it on Spotify and the rest. Craving more? Head over to The 1975’s YouTube channel to watch music videos for singles “Love Me,” “UGH!,” and “The Sound” (just released today). There you’ll also find their recent performances on SNL and The Tonight Show. And if you subscribe to Apple Music, you can watch a live show performed in Los Angeles.

Before all that, though, do yourself a massive favor and escape into the music and let it wash over you. I’m going in again now.

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