I think we can all agree that 10 years is a long time to spend working on anything. But to spend 10 years working on an album? Now that’s a whole different ballgame. While I doubt that The 1975 spent the last 10 years tirelessly toiling over every last detail of their formative debut, I have to admit, their time was well spent.
The 1975, for those who don’t know, are an emerging indie-rock collective that have spent the last few months winning over critics and Top 40 listeners alike. As many of you could have guessed, the band grew up from humble beginnings near the home of British rock royalty, Manchester. Before they were headlining tours, topping charts or driving their way into the hearts of soft-spoken teenagers, the group spent their younger years writing music under various titles including Big Sleep, Drive Like I Do and The Slowdown. Now, though, with their indecisive teenage years behind them, the band have emerged as a mature and technically adept group with a knack for writing infectious rock jams; albeit, they’re not all of a “rock” nature.
For some, The 1975 may feel like a strange mix of sounds and styles, but for those of you that have dipped into the band’s previous work, you will find this oddly paired album a happy medium of their earlier releases. Cohesive may not be the best word for it, but “eclectic” certainly is. As I’ve learned over the last couple of years, though, this is part of the band’s appeal: “Sex” and “The City” saw the group unearth their inner angst, while the slick and highly affective pop number, “Chocolate,” gave Matt Healy’s deep lyricism a hefty disguise. Even still, these notable favourites seem far removed from the rest of the album.
Although it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the resounding theme of this album is, it’s hard to pinpoint just what The 1975‘s sound really is: The first half of the album is a log of sexual exploits and guitar-driven anthems, whereas the other half is lined with dreamy R&B ballads and 80s-inspired rock tunes. There’s no denying that the first batch of songs have a great commercial appeal, but it’s hard to understand why the band brought all of their big guns out so early on.
With “An Encounter” serving as the dividing line, the band kick-off the second half of the album with the Drive-inspired love ballad, “Heart Out.” This is then followed up by the lofty pop number “Settle Down,” the heart-melting indulgence of “Robbers,” and the fiery pace of “Girls.” These three songs, while all paired together, inject a measure of depth and originality into the band’s repertoire. What’s disappointing is that they take away from the final five songs, which, in all truth, are glommed to The 1975‘s cookie-cutter template. Moreover, it’s hard to feel for the band when they have such an extensive catalogue to choose from.
As some of you may have noticed from looking at the tracklisting, The 1975 is an album of great length. With that being said, it’s important to note that only half of the band’s actual material has been included in this neat little package. Therefore, I can’t help but feel a double album would have done some good. More importantly, it would’ve been great to see the inclusion of “Milk,” “Head.Cars.Bending,” and our all-time favourite, “You.”
While it isn’t exactly what we wanted, The 1975 is what we needed. Sure it isn’t an album with a singular sound, but it is an album of depth, intrigue, and most importantly, originality. Not only does it prove that the band have perfected the pop formulae, but it proves that they can do so in the most interesting ways possible. Whether it’s through a clean-cut rock jam or an electronic-leaning production, they have helped revitalize the Brit-pop scene and given any downtempo song like “M.O.N.E.Y” or “Menswear” a fighting chance in this cloistered music scene. So if you’re looking for an album with myriad twists and turns, then look no further than The 1975.