Sex, Drugs, Rock And Roll and Existential Crises (The 1975 Review)

When watching any given interview featuring The 1975, there is a very good chance you will catch lead singer Matty Healy uttering some variation of the words: “well we’ve been a band for about ten years now.” It’s become a sort of running joke for fans of the band, but it’s easy to see why it keeps coming up – they are, after all, one of the best ‘new bands’ out there right now. But, perhaps “new” is the wrong way to describe The 1975, whose debut album (released last September) quickly shot to the top of the charts within a matter of weeks. After all, one solid listen-through of their eponymously named record renders Healy’s mantra almost redundant: this is obviously a band that knows their way around the ropes.

Hailing from a town just south of Manchester, The 1975 is an English band comprising of Matty Healy (guitars, vocals), Adam Hann (guitar, synth), Ross MacDonald (bass, synth), and George Daniel (drums, vocals). Though generally roped into the “alternative rock” category, there is no single genre that encapsulates this band or their record. Self-described as a “noir aesthetic, juxtaposed with classical pop sensibilities,” The 1975 seems to be a mix of everything from electronic-synth to post-punk new wave, along with 80s pop rock and hints of classic R&B – and suffice it to say, the result is phenomenal.

Dealing with everything from sex, drugs, and rock and roll, to matters of life, death, and other youthful existential crises, the record manages to somehow combine melancholy and ennui with haunting vocals, impossibly catchy hooks, and an impossibly bigger sound; on tracks like “The City,” “Chocolate,” and “Girls,” you can’t help but move your body to killer guitar riffs, big drums, and even bigger choruses. Other tracks like “Sex” or “Settle Down” aren’t as upbeat and joyful, but are certainly as (if not entirely more) enthusiastic in the rawest way possible, with guitar licks and synth riffs that seem to be screaming for attention (in a good way). Even the records’ gloomier offerings like “Robbers” and “M.O.N.E.Y.” find a way to bring a sense of energy to the ennui.

Of his own interpretation of what The 1975 represents, Healy often says the record is as much a 10-year reflection of the band’s own lives as it is a reflection of the fans who listen to it. And while that’s quite an introspective statement on its own, it also reveals one of the albums most noteworthy strengths — it’s the sort of record you can revisit over and over and experience completely differently each time. For example, more recent plays of the record have led me to rediscover and appreciate tracks like “Menswear” (which features about 2 minutes of instrumentals before diving into a very short lyrical segment) and “Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You” (a solemn but earnest track featuring only Healy on piano that closes off the album).

In short, The 1975 will make you want to dance, want to cry, want to experience joy, and want to destroy everything around you — all at the same time. This record (and band) seems to be the combined result of many influences, many talents, and many experiences, each of which is a new detail worth exploring. Ultimately, if this is your first foray into the world of The 1975, you probably don’t need to immediately know that Michael Jackson is one of the band’s biggest influences, or that they’re really into film noir, or even that they’ve been a band for nearly ten years now. But the one thing you do need to know? It’s that you’re definitely going to regret not getting into this band sooner.

[Editor’s note: From her notes in the original draft of this article, Samantha really loved this record, and it looked like she did not want to put any negative points about the album at all.]

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