Regular readers (thanks for thinking ‘that’s me!’ excitedly) will know just how much we love THE 1975.
It all started in the very small hours of a Sunday last September. With music telly being largely ignored in the background, a thumping drum beat kicked in, clearing our drunken haze in an instant.
The City was the most captivating three minutes of music I’ve heard in years. There was something more intoxicating about the unashamedly 80s vibe than the cocktails we’d sunk that night.
We bought tickets to see them at the Cockpit in December that night – their first-ever headline show as The 1975. And the rest, as so many people say, is history. Or at least the beginning of it…
“And this is how it starts…”
Next week, The 1975 finally release their delightfully self-titled album. We’ve been lusting after it for months, ever since the band began to tease us with minor details in our interviews through the year.
Safe to say it’s been well worth the wait. Sixteen tracks (or 39 if you go for the deluxe edition, which features the album, the four EPs and a handful of remixes) of playful, genre-dodging pop music. There’s plenty of RnB, soul, 80s electro grooves, rock balladry and a good hint of punk attitude in there.
Like their EPs, the album flows from delicate atmospherics to bold bursts of joyous indie pop, seamless in transition.
Opener The 1975, follows the similar lead-ins from the EPs – a soft swirl of synths and haunting vocals, relaying a night of, ahem, passion. It quickly swells into a suitable climax, then…
Bang! That distinct drum snap of The City. Reworked for the album and given even more oomph, the introduction to our favourite band is now a familiar anthem. Made to be played LOUD.
M.O.N.E.Y is a sassy, snappy RnB number with Matty almost switching to a rap, over an electronic trill and guitar hooks. It brilliantly showcases their hugely ambitious, adventurous sound.
I like how they’ve put the familiar singles early in the tracklisting. Not sure if that was a conscious decision, but it works for me. Fired-up chart hits Chocolate and Sex are the propellant for their rocketing success, making the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll cliché fresh and vibrant.
Talk! has a sweet bass groove, rolling under a Paul Simon-like calypso hook, as Matty asks the song’s arrogant protagonist: “Why you talk so loud? Why you talk so?” Makes me happy.
An Encounter is a brief interlude of the ambient loveliness they’ve mastered. A breather before the dizzying sugar rush of Heart Out, all thumping 80s keys, saxophone breaks and cutting lyrics – darker than the sparkling song suggests.
Settle Down has been a live staple and is just as big on record as it is on stage. One of the more funkier grooves on the album, it’s peppered with cool synths and slick guitar hooks. I dare you to keep still while this is playing.
I am in love with all four minutes 14 seconds of Robbers. It makes me cry. As soon as the wailing guitar kicks in, I’ve gone. It’s such an epic song, slowly building up to that tortured bellow: “Now everybody’s dead!” followed by the aching refrain: “You look so cool” . It just kills me. I found myself slyly brushing the tears away during their Leeds Festival set on Sunday afternoon. There’s never been a more beautiful song about an ill-fated criminal couple. Matty said it would be our favourite song on the album and he wasn’t wrong.
Girls is a big pop tune. Reminiscent of Prince, cooly reflecting on young love – or lust. Try and wrap your ears round the sassy lyrics – “I know you’re looking for submission in a secular age, but girl I’m not your saviour. Wrestled to the ground, God help me now…”. It’s going to be their next single and we’re busy working out the words, in preparation.
12 is another ethereal break from the pop proceedings. A chilled out minute-or-so before we kick it with She Way Out‘s four minutes of fun. Cannily alluding to a girl’s skills on the dancefloor, this tune will make you dance.
Menswear is a schizophrenic affair, starting with a crunching RnB jam, layered with snippets of synthesised vocals, clicks and sweeping samples, before bursting into life bang on the half-way mark, telling the tale of a drug-fuelled wedding reception. Smooth.
Pressure is the chilled-out best friend of Chocolate. Plenty of soulful grooves and delicious late-night sax. I’m not kidding, there’s moments it could be a mid-90s boyband chart-stormer.
Is There Somebody Who Could Watch You? is a very surprising spatial piano ballad. Stark, hauntingly beautiful and so very tender, it’s a heartfelt end to the best album of the year.
Ten years in the making, The 1975 are no overnight success. Theirs is an accomplished, sophisticated sound, which takes you on a journey of emotion and nostalgia. So much heart and soul in their work, so many inspirations cleverly and carefully balanced to create a sound so familiar yet effortlessly fresh, avoiding clichés and contradictions.
They may have paved the way to this album with stylish monochrome, but their debut is an explosion of colour, vivid tales of adolescence and arresting Eighties raunch. It’s the soundtrack of disenchanted youth, which would make John Hughes so very proud.
>> The 1975: The 1975 is out on Monday, September 2, 2013, on Dirty Hit/Polydor. Go buy it.