In appearance the 1975 may well have stepped straight out of the period of slicked hair, leather jackets and nonchalant attitudes, yet paradoxically their music feels far more influenced by the 1980’s than anything else. With their liberal use of synths, electro and Matt Healy’s high tenor voice (being sweet enough to make any teenage girl squeal), the 1975 sound like the lovechild of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The regular release of singles such as ‘Chocolate’ and ‘The City’ have pushed the band into serious popularity. Several of their upcoming tour dates have become sold out soon after their announcement and the hype surrounding their debut has been fairly high. Yet, rather than proving that the 1975 possess the ability to craft a brilliant single and album, their debut supports only one the mentioned formats (much to my disappointment).
Opening with a brief instrumental intro, the album plunges head-first into ‘The City’; a resounding, twisting synth and percussion-heavy blinder which leaves behind a notable impression. Then ‘Chocolate’ rushes in and declares outright to be the best song on the record, with its insanely catchy chorus and ingeniously chirpy riff running through your mind until doomsday. The lyrics rather impressed me as well, with lines such as ‘We’ve got guns hidden under our petticoats’ leaving me intrigued. Finally ‘Sex’ arrives as the guitar and angst heavy venture into the emotional minefield of young relationships, with the lyric ‘she’s got a boyfriend anyway’ oozing many a sleepless night and restless brood. As the only song amongst the first five (aside from the intro) to not be a single, ‘M.O.N.E.Y’ still manages to hold its own, with a distinctly R’N’B feel to its steady beat.
Yet after ‘Sex’ the whole record seems to drift along with similar sounds that have very little impact in comparison to what came before, and the brutal truth is that, as a debut, the record is far too long. There were several moments whilst listening when the thought ‘This song doesn’t need to be here’ entered my mind, particularly during brief slow-downs like ‘An Encounter’ and ‘12’. This felt as if they were washing away the beginning’s vibrancy. Other songs simply irritated more than anything, with ‘Talk!’ overwhelming you with an undue amount of elements clashing until become incoherent. Aside from ‘Settle-down’; a bouncy and intricate guitar infused tune, and ‘Menswear’; an unusual track which transitions into an upbeat and husky piece, the majority of the album is forgettable.
To create a debut is challenging enough for any band or artist but to attempt something as ambitious as the 1975 clearly tried to achieve is on a different level all together. Perhaps riding on the wave of their recent single successes convinced them that a sixteen track debut was an attainable goal. Maybe it was just unwise to place their best material all in one go at the start, but my instincts tell me that cutting out a large number of those weak songs may have given me cause to be more forgiving.
Released 2/9/13 on Polydor