The 1975 have been possibly the breakout band of the year in England. The four piece from Manchester have released four EPs in just over 12 months with three really strong singles; “Sex”, “The City”, and particularly “Chocolate” helping propel them into modest success. Their self-titled debut, described as “highly ambitious” by frontman Matthew Healy, was released at the beginning of September but was a long time in the making. The band themselves have been around for eleven years after meeting at school when drummer George Daniels was just 14. The album, it turns out, was written before the EPs, with lead singles being selected and the EPs written around each one, creating a kind of narrative. But this perhaps was also running a risk, revealing the best parts of the album then not being able to follow the hype.
The opening track is a short, synth led kind of interlude which is a statement of intent from the band that you’re not about to listen to 15 songs, you’re about to listen to a thought out album. Then comes the three lead singles in a quick fire opening with just one song between them. “The City” starts with loud crashing drums and demonstrates some of the bands finest lyrics: “You’ve got pretty eyes but I know you’re wrong.” The song follows a theme of lust which reoccurs throughout the album, not least in “Sex”, another lead single. This has many more elements of indie rock including an aggressive opening riff and impressive solo to finish, with plenty of action and explicit lyrics in between, it is definitely one of the major highlights of the album.
The 1975’s “The City”
The final single to mention is “Chocolate”, the breakthrough song for The 1975, turning their 11 years of work into an overnight success, however the album version is slightly different, containing a riveting climax. The rhythm demonstrated in this song is a defining factor of the band, recreated through the album but never so splendidly. The funky baseline could be taken from a reggae track, it makes every fiber of you want to move in-time. The song that separates the singles at the top of the album is “M.O.N.E.Y.” A very ambitious song which has elements of rap and a chorus to be loved or hated.
There is a further interlude around the half way mark of the album named “An Encounter”. This delightfully helps the transition from the shouty “Talk!” to the mellow and crooning “Heart Out”. One of the less energetic songs on the album, “Heart Out” shows off Healy’s smooth vocals and, matched with the gentle lyrics, provides the most romantic touch of the album. A synth opening comes next with “Settle Down”, another master class of rhythm, mixed with a strong chorus creating a major highlight for the album. Later there is a nearly two minute instrumental opening to “Menswear”, which again reinforces the feeling of the true thought that’s gone into the flow of this album. So to say it sounds better when listened to in full would be an understatement.
The 1975’s “Robbers”
In the grand scene of things, “Robbers” is possibly the most impressive song on the album. It opens with “She had a face straight out a magazine.” Taken figuratively it speaks of a failing relationship ending with destruction. Literally it has a linear narrative that could be taken from a romantic action movie. This song has another brilliant chorus and an incredible vocal for the line, “Now everybody’s dead.” Despite this, the album has an upbeat feeling throughout, more great rhythm in “Girls” and another great chorus in “She Way Out” with which it is impossible not to smile through.
The last song of the album is bluntly named “Is there somebody who can watch you”. After all the victorious jerking of the previous 48 minutes, is it quite a contrasting and sobering song. Written personally by Healy, it describes the longing hope for his younger brother to be safe and well while he’s away. It’s a rather humbling moment to realize that even rock stars are human and have these primitive instincts. Despite this, it seems rather separate and slightly spoils the mood of otherwise such a celebratory LP.
Unsurprisingly the highlights are definitely the three outstanding lead singles, but do don’t misunderstand, this is in no way an album of fillers. The band’s depth is displayed by the deluxe edition of the album, containing a staggering 39 songs, rather than the modest 16 on the standard edition. The 1975 have created delightful dance-floor indie pop, somewhere in between hands in the air sing-a-long anthems and hard rock filled with soaring choruses of hooks and melodies. There is a real feel that this album was put together with much time spent on delving into tempo and mood shifts, and it seems to flow perfectly (until the last song at least). It is perhaps more polished than most independent records, with harmonies and a barrage of instruments, but this all adds to the mood. Healy’s imitable yet smooth vocals make catchy choruses even catchier. Strong synth and stuttering guitar owes a lot to the incredibly popular 80s synth-pop scene, but is a completely new take which gives the chance for guitar music to invade the dance floors of nightclubs.
Written by Jack Ryan
OurVinyl | Contributor