Album Review: “The 1975” by The 1975
Although the self-titled album released this week may be the first full-length offering from the British-born band The 1975, it is in no way the act’s first appearance on the music scene. In fact, the band enjoyed a relatively comfortable rise to recognition in 2012, especially in its home country, including four EP releases and endorsements from fashionable radio disc jockeys and blogs everywhere. Expectations for its first LP were high, and this debut meets every single one.
Because The 1975 has been raised as a media darling, critics have been eager to try to shove the band into a neat box of genre, the most popular being the now expansive and rather meaningless “pop-rock” genre. However, this kind of generalization is exceedingly reductive, especially for an album like this. Perhaps the label is symptomatic of the first batch of singles, “Sex” (which sounds like a less obnoxious Kings of Leon track), “The City” and “Chocolate,” but a listen to the whole album shows that The 1975 is in no way a one-trick pony. There’s an unabashed nod to ’80s synthpop on “Girls” (the intro riff sounds like it belongs in a Molly Ringwald movie), although the toe-tapping rhythms of the era wind themselves throughout the album’s repertoire. Standout track “Menswear” is perhaps the best example of the release’s spectacular production, folding a subdued and distorted beat into out-of-focus synths, snaps and layered vocals. The whole song sounds like you’re listening to it underwater, turning the track into an auditory experience. The album’s final song, “Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You,” a somber piano ballad devoid of production tricks and playbacks, comes seemingly out of left field, but it’s somehow fitting for an album that is always full of surprises.
In a way, “The 1975” is the best kind of representation of the music scene today and how it should be going forward. It takes inspiration from everywhere and as a result sounds like nothing else out there. Despite its relative infancy as a band, The 1975 has already proven that it knows how to create distinct atmosphere on each individual track, blending expert production, catchy hooks and relatable lyrics. Granted, the songs tend to be fueled by the usual young adult angst and hormones, but this doesn’t really detract from the record—Matt Healy’s vocals, which alternate deftly between expansively clear and hazy are the perfect foil to the lyrics about sex, doomed relationships and unrequited love.
This self-titled debut is a stunning burst out of the gate onto the music scene, indicating a promising future for The 1975. Fingers crossed that they can maintain the momentum.