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The year that created The 1975 was 2013, so what a shame it would have been to have missed out on this band’s rise to prominence had the Apocalypse struck.
The 1975 originate from Cheshire and consist of four friends who met at school, I feel I’ve wrote that line so many times but musicians are drawn to each other, what can I say. The band is formed of Matthew Healy (son of Denise Welch off of Loose Women), Ross MacDonald, Adam Hann and George Daniel. They have gigged over the last ten years under a number of aliases including Talkhouse, The Slowdown and Bigsleep before Healy settled on The 1975 after seeing it written in the back page of an old beat poetry book.
The boys recorded four preceding EP’s before their debut, the first being ‘Face Down’ which was released on the 6th of August 2012. It features the quaking ‘The City’ with a rougher demo like feel which was then re-recorded for the final release and included shattering synth and riffs to create a striking opening single. The second EP ‘Sex’ followed with another single included within a mix of heady 80s inspired electro rock and the heart wrenching ‘You’. The video premiered on YouTube, showing that the band are visual thinkers too as it was a masterful piece that complemented the synth heavy ‘Sex’ perfectly and gained the band a lot of well earned media attention which in turn created anticipation for the EP that helped them break through the radar, ‘Music For Cars’.
This EP was skilfully crafted and disguised two future pop anthems within a complex mix of synth and instrumental. The mega hit ‘Chocolate’ broke the top 20 in the UK and earned the band a silver certification from the BPI. Radio 1 supported this track immensely and suddenly everyone had The 1975 and chocolate on their lips (sorry for that dreadful inadvertent pun, but loads of people were talking about it). The rise of their fame was materialised for me when hoping to see the band perform at Liverpool Sound City Festival, they had been booked into the tiny Zanzibar room before the release of ‘Chocolate’. The queue went for about half a mile.
One more EP teased one more EP in May before hitting the festival circuits with a small packet of singles and fan made anthems and proved that being together for ten years really does help your live technique. The band are a unit on stage and Matt conducts in a charismatic yet mysterious way, think of Florence Welch when she used to still wear black lipstick. He has a strange sexual prowess in his songwriting and his stage presence. I imagine him to appear on many ‘weird crushes’ lists in the coming months.
2013 & Their Survival:
After playing at Glastonbury, Reading and Bestival over the summer, and premiering tracks from the debut, the band have established their reputation as a new sound to take serious note of. The anticipation for the full length album was at feverishly high levels. Released at the beginning of September, the self titled LP has an impressive 16 tracks and features all three singles that helped them break onto radio waves and festival stage. The album has that wonderful retro, 80s inspired theme running throughout. This becomes crystal clear on the likes of ‘Heart Out’ with infectious hooks and dangerous levels of synth that balance perfectly with the growling guitars.
The album is free of filler which is really refreshing for an album of this length, there are however three instrumental tracks which act almost as intermissions or breaks in a play. I like their inclusion as you can tell the band have put thought into the track listings and have treated this album like a piece of artwork that they have carefully assembled. There are a large number of potential singles sitting within this. ‘Settle Down’ has great narrative paired with a radio friendly hook and finished in high matt gloss. M.O.N.E.Y has quite extreme content, but the band disguise this within a great pop track in a similar way to ‘Sex’. You can’t help but hum along to this sinister tune about an unsuspecting victim of drug abuse. The video for their new single is once again a slice of genius as it’s undoubtedly pop but the band look as far from Same Difference as you could imagine, so what do you do? Take the piss out of yourself, of course.
I’m also very impressed that the band weren’t tempted to ‘recycle’ early work that was included in their early EPs. Both Haim and MS MR fell victim to this, as although the benefit of including a pre-released track on a debut is that it gives fans familiarity, it also means you are cheated of a brand new track that would have taken its place.
So the boys from Manchester did very well this year. They unsuspectedly released the summer anthems and a debut which crosses genres superbly and showcases the band’s talent as musicians.