The 1975 – The 1975 (Dirty Hit/Polydor)
Here we are in 2013, on the release of The 1975’s highly anticipated self-titled debut album, composed of sixteen tracks split across four early EPs. It introduces us to two sides of The 1975: the poppy, guitar-driven anthems and the glitchy, more experimental R’n’B style soundscapes. But the question is, can it live up to all the hype? Louder Than War’s Alana Turk’s been checking out the album for us, see what she thinks below.
A fully formed band emerging overnight, seemingly from nowhere, does not always make for good headlines. It is, however, more often than not the outcome of years of dedication and rejection away from the ever-watching public eye – as was the case for Manchester four-piece The 1975. Starting out in their early teens and changing their name as often as the seasons, they now find themselves one of the most talked about bands of the year – albeit a decade later.
Second track and debut single ‘The City’ sets the bar high at an early stage, blending pulsing synths, tweaking guitars, and driving drum beats alongside frontman Matthew Healy’s falsetto vocals. It proves to be a sprawling piece of anthemic indie rock that superbly demonstrates the bands depth of vision and diverse influences. Already a radio-favourite and top 20 single, the backbeat groove sugar rush that is ‘Chocolate’ will likely be the most recognisable track on the album. ¬The song displays bleak themes of drug and crime fuelled youth, which is sharply counteracted by unbelievably catchy guitar hooks and a clap-along worthy beat.
Sex remains to be the band’s most straight-forward – and gritty – song. A track that clearly lives up to its title, it explores themes of infidelity and lust. Healy flaunts his soaring vocal capacity, alongside coarse guitar riffs and powerful drums. ‘Heart Out’ on the other hand, finds the frontman sounding somewhat more mature, emphasised by warm vocal harmonies and twinkling guitars. The song emanates 80’s electro pop vibes and impresses with daringly abrasive looping keys and a sax solo thrown in for good measure.
A soulful soft-rock moment, Settle Down showcases The 1975’s capability of creating polished melodies and limb-jerking rhythms. The band’s trademark cheerful guitar hook and drumbeat is sure to have heads bobbing along almost immediately. An infectious blend of modern synth accents and 80’s nostalgia coupled with Healy’s poignant vocal twang creates a sensual groove, which speaks of obsessive and ill-advised relationships.
Robbers proves to be a calmer – and quite frankly, more seductive – offering from the group – really the first of its kind on the album. Healy’s emotional, resonating vocals express dark and deeply personal lyrics. This reverb-drenched ballad is sure to be a favourite amongst well established fans – the guitar pop sing-a-long element would certainly sound great echoing off the walls of any venue. Embodying a carefree attitude, Girls is encapsulated in The 1975’s signature upbeat style and has to be a future single in waiting. The pop strut presents to us four minutes of astoundingly tight hooks, rhythmic guitars and playfully delivered vocals containing some very promiscuous lyrics.
Opening with a near-two minute cool, synthy intro, ‘Menswear’ erupts as a much more modern R ‘n’ B track, with enticing snippets of auto-tuned vocals. The track follows the drunken, pilled-up protagonist at a wedding, observing the guests and eventually telling the groom exactly what he thinks of his new bride. The writing – set in a true-to-everyday-life form that Alex Turner would be proud of – is brilliant and the wobbling instrumental arrangement it is set atop of makes the song sound cheerfully drunk itself.
There is a distinct identity running throughout The 1975’s debut; whether it’s themes of the frivolities and mistakes of youth or their devil-may-care attitude. All in all, it is a great pop record with plenty of depth and the songs are taut and consistently infectious. The band are not afraid to experiment with other genres and styles and each track is consistently good. The level of musical competence and cohesion that radiates through the recordings and live performances is evidence of the band’s longevity. It will be interesting to see how they evolve and progress on forthcoming releases, but where they go from here is up to them. One thing is certain though: “this is how it starts”.
All words by Alana Turk. More of Alana’s writing for Louder Than War can be found here.