Today The 1975 officially released their incredible sophomore album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. I’m working on a review of that record now, and for nostalgia’s sake I sought out the review I wrote for their debut in 2013. My love for this record has only expanded in the past three years (I even like the spelling in “MONEY” now!), and it’s interesting to compare the way I felt about The 1975 in those early days of release with the dawning of a brand new record. The feelings are similarly magical and inspiring. I’ll spill a lot of words about this band in the coming days, but for now I thought it would be fun to put this review back on the web for nostalgia’s sake.
The following review was written in 2013 for The Minaret, during my first year as arts editor.
Some music has a way of completely surrounding a listener. Headphones on, lights out, eyes closed, volume up. Somehow, the music provides all of the color in the world. It may sound romanticized, but the most important music is not the most technically advanced or lyrically clever—it’s the music that defines a point in time in a listener’s life. I can hear a song I loved six years ago and remember how I felt the first time I heard it. This is what makes music more than just sound released from a speaker—it’s an experience all in itself. Sometimes, it’s expected— if an artist I’ve loved for years releases an album, I will obviously expect to love said album. Other times, it comes without warning and knocks me off my feet.
Enter Manchester, UK’s The 1975, with a self-titled debut album. After 10 years, five band names, hundreds of shows and a few awesome EPs, it seems silly how little I knew about them before this past month. However, my ignorance has made the impact of The 1975 all the more powerful.
Headphones on, lights out, eyes closed, volume up.
The record opens with the aptly titled “The 1975,” a slow-burn intro track that displays The 1975’s remarkable attention to detail and atmosphere when creating music. The song invokes images of dark highways, with city skylines growing brighter and brighter the closer they get. “Go down/Soft sound/Midnight/Car lights,” mumbles Matt Healy melodically. The song builds and builds until the highway ends and “The 1975” collides with “The City,” a steady, driving track which shows the band’s ability to write an incredible but simple hook (“you want to find love, you know where the city is”).
This ability is essential here, as The 1975 is undoubtedly a pop album, one that justifiably thrives on the strength of its hooks. However, The 1975 shows that it has the upper hand over other pop acts by putting just as much weight on groove and overall sound as it does on catchiness. Take for example “M.O.N.E.Y.,” a sporadic track with a more understated hook (“has he got enough money to spend?”) that blends in with the verses. “M.O.N.E.Y.” focuses more on making the listener move with its myriad of sounds than it does on making them remember the chorus. This is not to say that The 1975 is devoid of radio hits, as “Sex” is a soaring, all-out, pop-rock track, so rich in youth and impulse that it’s sure to be a fan favorite for the entirety of The 1975’s career.
As difficult as this is over a 16-track run time, The 1975 never falters from its impeccable flow. The interludes help out, reminding the listener that this is indeed a complete album and not just a collection of songs. Lyrically, the record focuses on the recklessness and insecurity that comes with early adulthood—dealing with infidelity and lust (“there’s only minutes before I drop you off/ all we seem to do is talk about sex/ she’s got a boyfriend anyway”), as well as feelings of responsibility and regret (“When I’m home you know I’ve got you/Is there somebody who can watch you?”).
The 1975 reaches a climax of sorts with “Robbers,” an impeccable love song that puts emotion at the forefront as it builds into an imaginative vignette of fragile young love (“Well now that you’ve got your gun/It’s much harder now the police have come/And I’ll shoot him if it’s what you ask/But if you just take off your mask/You’d find out that everything’s gone wrong”), making for one of the best songs of the year.
As new and exciting as The 1975 feels, it is the influence it takes from the past that really takes the album over the edge. “Girls” and “Heart Out” could have been ripped from an ‘80s John Hughes film, while the former and “Pressure” are bleeding with sounds of Michael Jackson worship.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this album is how singular everything feels. Nearly every sound produced, every lyric and every track-to-track transition feels natural. No one element takes precedent—The 1975 itself is the star of this album. Not every decision lands perfectly (the spelling part in “M.O.N.E.Y.” is grating, and the back half of the album is much stronger), but over 16 tracks, there are an amazingly few number of missteps.
With their debut album, The 1975 have crafted something memorable and important. It is as futuristic as it is nostalgic and as pondering as it is upbeat. While The 1975 are sure to make a huge cultural impact in the next few years or even months, the band has already proven their venture to be successful. They have created an album that will resonate with their fans and define a point in time in their lives. Because of this, The 1975 has already hit it big—anything more is just well deserved money in the bank.