Richie Feathers, Arts Editor
To call The 1975 an overnight success would only be half true. While American audiences embraced “Chocolate,” their glimmering slice of pop/rock perfection, seemingly all at once, it may come as a surprise that an earlier version of the single has actually been circulating around the internet for about five years. Although credited to a lesser known band called Drive Like I Do, it’s a messier demo of the catchy, finely-polished summer hit. However, now known as The 1975, Drive Like I Do is just one of the many previous monikers of this group of early twenty-somethings whose career together already spans an entire decade.
Releasing four EPs over the past year, The 1975 have steadily garnered a devoted fan base drawn in by their mix of beautiful, electronic soundscapes and cleaner, immediate indie-pop/rock numbers. Yet, only three songs from the EPs’ catalog show up on the group’s eponymous debut, a sprawling, 16-track opus that The 1975 say is the culmination of their lives over the past ten years. And, as intricately-detailed as it is expansive, the album is truly something special. Co-produced by Mike Crossey (Foals, Two Door Cinema Club), “The 1975” is bursting with vibrant life and soon-to-be hits that effortlessly rival “Chocolate”’s inescapable sheen.
“Heart Out” begins with a pulsing, new-wave beat that drives the unconventional love song to its saxophone-assisted coda before blending into “Settle Down”’s shimmering guitar hooks and electronic flourishes. Later, “Menswear” is a standout fusion of the two that begins with an airy-synth groove before Matt Healy’s tenor barges in halfway through with a tale of wedding-day blues over a commanding rhythm reminiscent of “The Way You Make Me Feel”-era Michael Jackson, a distinguishable inspiration of their’s. Elsewhere, “Girls” comes perfectly assembled as the next biggest pop song that’ll make you wonder how you lasted all summer without it. Yet, aside from the obvious sonic urgency of the tracks, there is also an undeniable honesty to the lyrics that beckons the listener even closer.
Recognizing that most bands don’t have ten years to write an album, Healy recently explained that each song has at one point been the most important focus in each of their lives. And having time to resonate in this patience and passion has made the tracks all the more effective and clean. Follow up singles “The City” and “Sex” are electrifying, personal accounts of late night drug use and adolescence that at times even make you feel intrusive. However, it’s these individual stories set against uplifting chord progressions that Healy embraces as the makeup of their music. Yet even when The 1975 slow things down on piano-led album closer “Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You,” a touching ode to Healy’s younger brother stuck in their broken, English home, they remain completely engaging. For sometimes it takes ten years to create an album like “The 1975”: it’s intimate yet bold, contemporary yet timeless.
Key Tracks: “Chocolate,” “Settle Down,” “The City”