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Album Review: The 1975 – The 1975

 
By on Monday, 2nd September 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

The 1975 album coverFrom this initial Bands to Watch I wrote in summer 2012, it’s been a whirlwind 12 months for a particular English band, including more gigs at SXSW 2013 than you can count on one hand, major post-SXSW hype, a major label record deal and oh, what about those screaming fangirls wherever they go, especially if their frontman is removing his jacket onstage? Who am I talking about? The 1975, of course. And now the boys from Manchester are now ready for their close-up. Unless you’re an established band that has been poking around for a while, the current de rigueur is to have an album of around 10 tracks and no more. ‘The 1975’ has 16 tracks: could they not self-edit, or is the album chock full of treasures? The former is a definite possibility, with the band’s singer/guitarist Matthew Healy and drummer George Daniel coproducing the album with Arctic Monkeys‘ collaborator Mike Crossey. But this is the real question on everyone’s minds as the title track, not even a minute and a half and sat at position #1, begins the album in a dreamy fashion.

As in White Lies‘ ‘Big TV’ released in August on Fiction (review here), the 1975 felt the need for two musical interludes, ‘An Encounter’ and ’12’. Besides providing a marker than you’ve passed another third of the album, there seems no particular reason for these and while they sound nice, they are filler. (Also weirdly, ‘Heart Out’ keep mentioning a tv. It always sounds weird to me to hear an Englishman say “tv” and not “telly”, so this was another way the 1975 album reminded me of the latest from White Lies.)

But let’s get to the meat of the album, the songs. The appearance of several songs that are already hit singles for the 1975 should come as no surprise. Given the live reception of ‘The City’, ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Sex’, their placement in the first half of the album causes ‘The 1975’ to a feel a bit top heavy. For people who aren’t familiar with these Mancunians, especially for those who are appreciative of good pop melodies and hooks, it may set you up for a bit of a disappointment, as these are arguably the strongest songs of this set and most accessible to the public. Newer track ‘M.O.N.E.Y.’ (not to be confused with fellow Mancunians M O N E Y) is a slow jam / r&b pastiche that is sat uncomfortably between ‘The City’ and ‘Chocolate’ and breaks up the pop momentum. Unfortunate.

Also, I have to wonder how many kids – and I mean KIDS – are going to be listening to this album, but to have the pretty innocent ‘Chocolate’ to be followed up by the extremely frank ‘Sex’ directly following it, is pretty jarring. (I’m starting to act all motherly and be quite crochety the more years I get in this music reviewing business, eh?) I guess all we can hope is that the wide-eyed innocents aren’t listening that closely to the lyrics. Or watching the new music video for the latter for that matter…

Then you go into the rest of the album, which is pretty much no man’s land unless you’ve actually been lucky enough to see the band in any of their sold out shows or festival appearances this year. Even so, a lot of these haven’t been played live yet or if they have, not very often. The pop formula of the aforementioned singles extends to some but not all of these songs. The start/stop syncopation and the brilliant guitars of ‘Talk!’ are nice enough but sound far too much like they were stolen from their labelmates Little Comets, making you wonder if Mickey Coles was hiding out in their studio and turning some knobs without them knowing while they were asleep.

Better is ‘Heart Out’, which feels very ’80s New Wave. Squint and you can see the long hair from here. Judging from fan reaction in the four times I’ve seen them this year, ‘Settle Down’ (live video from DC in March 2013 below) has come across as a very fun number and fan favourite live, so one hopes it will be the next song seeing a single release. From the spoken breakdown to its building back up, it’s a winner. ‘Girls’ is another possible single contender, with frontman Matthew Healy proffering up the lyrics with a winsome smile as the insistent pop rhythm continues throughout.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRC-Nyuv2Wo[/youtube]

But from here on out, you have to wonder if it would have been better if some of these were better off released as B-sides and not included as album tracks, in favour of a shorter, more cohesive album. ‘Robbers’ has an admirable guitar hook that is brilliant live, but it’s too slow on album format and lacks interest to really grab the listener. The melody of ‘She Way Out’ is a bit tired, oddly staying in same general area of the harmonic scale, as if written so it could easily sung without taxing the voice. My theory, anyway. ‘Menswear’, taking advantage of synthesiser (if you could call it that), but the tune lacks punch, and the same fate befalls ‘Pressure’. And instead of ending the album on a high note, the vaguely John Legend-esque ‘Is There Someone Who Can Watch You’ ends the album on a sleepy yet soulful note. Not my thing, but I suppose for their legions of fangirls, this might hit the spot.

I do feel biased because I’ve had the good fortune to be down the front to hear some of these songs by the 1975 live in 2013, and I know those songs are better heard live than on record. On the other hand, based on the brilliance of the previously released singles, I was expecting to be hit in the face with banger after banger of new songs on the debut album, and I just didn’t get that. It’s a good debut album in the sense that they did try to be different from one song to another and didn’t just copy what they knew were successful formulas. But at the same time, I’d advise any band not to come out with a 16-track debut album: unless you’ve got an exceptional album from start to finish, you risk losing listeners who aren’t willing to stay with you for the duration.

7/10

The self-titled debut album from Manchester indie rock band the 1975 is out today on Dirty Hit Records. Stream the whole album from this post on TGTF last Friday.

 

Album Stream: The 1975 – The 1975

 
By on Friday, 30th August 2013 at 5:30 pm
 

It is time. For what, you ask? For you to wrap your ears round the 1975‘s self-titled debut album. It’s out on Monday the 2nd of September on Dirty Hit / Polydor, but you can get a first taste of the 16 tracks right here. You’ve probably got the weekend on the brain already, so I won’t say anything else but LISTEN.

 

Live Gig Video: The 1975 share acoustic version of ‘Sex’ performed by Matt Healy and Adam Hann

 
By on Tuesday, 13th August 2013 at 4:01 pm
 

In today’s installment of the TGTF live gig video feature, lead singer / guitarist Matt Healy and lead guitarist Adam Hann of The 1975 perform a stripped back, acoustic version of ‘Sex’, their new single out on the 26th of August. I love it because 1) it goes back to the basics for them (in black and white, and entirely unpretentious, unlike the new promo video that premiered in late July) and 2) it shows how a band can make a song completely different by just switching things up. Watch the performance below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7BhM8Qch44[/youtube]

 

Video(s) of the Moment #1275: The 1975

 
By on Sunday, 28th July 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

I waited until the weekend to post the new video from The 1975 because it’s got explicit content. Then again, what else would you expect about a song that’s titled ‘Sex’, right? Yes, there’s exposed boobs and a bare bum. But I think the explicit content they’re referring to is, ironically, drug use. But the actual action is pretty tame compared to what you see in Hollywood movies.

The new video is quite different from the original one the band from Manchester had posted 9 months ago, which I’ve also embedded below. For one thing, the original has punchier sound, which I found very cool that many fans who have seen the new video have pointed out. Who said no-one was paying attention to the music? Well done, 1975 fandom! And the black and white presentation of the original video better matches the band’s ethos, or at least what we were presented with when we started writing about them last summer and I wrote this Bands to Watch. Time will tell if major label production will make or break them…

The single version of ‘Sex’ will be released on the 26th of August, one week ahead of their self-titled debut album release on Dirty Hit / Polydor on the 2nd of September.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKIhXi-yiw8[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeDGfk0UJw8[/youtube]

 

Live Review: The 1975 with Alpine at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 20th June 2013

 
By on Monday, 1st July 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Header and Alpine photo by Mary Chang

Manchester born and bred The 1975 made a big splash when they were here in the DC area back in March. But being a still small band for the U.S. market, they got snapped up by a larger American band’s tour. On the road with The Neighborhood throughout the U.S., their path was just a tad too far away for me to get to. Then by magic a local music Web site sponsored them for a mid-tour headliner in my backyard. Sign me up!

Alpine Washington

One-offs make for strange bedfellows though. Support came from the Aussie band Alpine, also sneaking in a one-off after completing a support tour with another band. I’m not quite sure how they got hooked up for this particular show, but the mismatch was a little heavy-handed. With Phoebe Baker and Lou James sharing vocals, the girls took the stage in what I hoped were ‘80s inspired costumes (facial glitter included!) and not what passed as acceptable streetwear in their world. With a lot of “oohs” and “oooos” in their music, I found it quite dull musically. Indeed, I commented to my partner in crime that I would kill myself rather than play lead guitar as it was so monotonous. But they were into it. Thrashing and bopping about as if the music were substantially more energetic than it really was. For my money though, I would give them a total pass.

However, when those Northern boys took the stage, the crowd was ready for them. With a bevy of new(er) songs with titles such as ‘Settle Down’ and ‘Heart Out’, they did an excellent job of fleshing out a full set with both new songs and the familiar tunes from their EPs. Oddly enough, the one EP of theirs released in America has ‘Chocolate’, ‘Sex’ and ‘The City’ all on one disc. Still named ‘IV’ since it was their fourth EP, it combined the singles from the previous EPs released at home. Nonetheless, it gave us Americans something meaty to grab hold of as we await the album.

The 1975 Washington June 2013 1

Energetic, loud and fun frontman Matthew Healy and company rocketed through their catalog, apologising at first that they were going to be playing songs people didn’t know. Not so fast, Mr. Healy. In this age of the internet, if you’ve played, we’ve heard it! Singing and dancing were the order of the night. The ever so slightly funky ‘Chocolate’ was the big hit of the night. Lead singer Healy took the chance of stepping away from the mic at the very first refrain only to have the entire chorus roared back at him. “Yeah, we’re dressed in black from head to toe, we’ve got guns hidden under our petticoats / No, we’re never gonna quit it, no, we’re never gonna quit it, no.” He looked a bit disbelieving but humbled to have such a response and it made the entire band beam in delight. After bringing the set to an enormous crescendo with the one-two punch of ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Sex’, I was puzzled by the set closer ‘You’, but it worked. It may not be the massive sing along of the other two, but it does having the amazing sonic build that takes a band out on a huge high. With the assembled masses drenched in joyful sweat, no-one left with anything other than the great anticipation of them coming back soon.

The high energy set that pulsated through the club proved to this American crowd that all the hype that has been piled onto this band both from SXSW and radio play back at home was well deserved. After Glastonbury, they will be touring a scattering of shows before they are back to tour the UK proper in August. Their eponymous debut album is due from Dirty Hit/Polydor in September.

 

Live Gig Videos: Young Kato and the 1975 perform at CMJ showcase at the Great Escape 2013

 
By on Thursday, 13th June 2013 at 4:00 pm
 

CMJ (yes, those crazy people that put on the New York City-based music festival of the same name every October) sponsored a really fab showcase the Saturday night of this year’s Great Escape 2013 starring some great bands, including Young Kato and the 1975. Enjoy videos on us from both of these bands – Young Kato’s ‘Something Real’ and the 1975’s ‘Milk’ – below.

My full coverage of the night can be read here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HVAePSC1bs[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8E_14vrBy4[/youtube]

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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