Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The 1975 - The 1975

Listening to The 1975 is like walking through a C. S. Lewis novel, except when you get through the wardrobe, it's not all snow and heaven like with Kate Bush's 50 Words for Snow, it's a Kerrang after party. The 1975 are an early 00s throwback band, not quite modern enough to come across as James Blake wannabes but too skilled to be support for Lostprophets. There's the voice of pop punk/emo Patrick Stump and the Fall Out Boy's, yet geographically Mancunians. The music traces of 1975 are at best, random. With wikiedia/ genre descriptions ranging from indie rock, nu gaze, to electronic rock and indie pop, it's a wonder why they sound like every single American sounding indie rock/punk band. Bastille can get away with it for their British accents, but deep down everyone knows Bastille sound similar to Tom Odell.

Comparisons to The Big Pink have been made in the past, and rightfully so. Track two "The City" has a heavily distorted bass synthesizer riff, and a naturally reverberated drum beat. This track is one of their best, though getting past Matthew Healy's vocal is a completely different story. The Big Pink has layers of electric guitar distortion before getting to the vocals, and when Robbie Furze sings, there's layers, reverb, and so on covering his better than average but not great vocal. Shoegaze as a genre has never needed fantastic vocals because the voice isn't taken as a note hitter, but as an instrument that belongs with the soundscapes from guitar effects and synthesizers. It's what made A Brief History of Love a fantastic nu-gaze album. With Healy and co on The 1975, well they don't do any of this. The brief history of shoegaze will tell you all about layers, distortion, and the wall of sound; not cringe worthy emo vocals and electronic cutting that suits Gold Panda rather than M83.

"M.O.N.E.Y." has literally taken the glitch expertise of Gold Panda and entered a world of R&B. Healy sounds 10x better when his vocal is strained. When his voice is layered, he doesn’t sound like a fanatic Fall Out Boy fan. It's a well-produced track that sounds better than 90% of the album. The same can't be said for "Chocolate". There's nothing wrong with the guitar riff, which is clearly influenced by Foals. The electronic drum beat, combining guitars and ambient synthesizer has been in Foals' DNA for years. The 1975 have entered the fray and added a horrible vocal (great to some) to scare away the Alt-J fans. It's hard to see what direction The 1975 are taking. They haven’t decided upon a genre as such, but a grouping of fans. It's not for die-hard fans of The Libertines, The Big Pink, or even My Bloody Valentine... Or James Blake, Gold Panda, Four Tet, The XX etc.. It's for people who enjoy reading about everything Kerrange rave about. It has those grotty screamy vocals that Kerrang just can't get enough of. It's not original in the slightest. The 1975 take aspects from bands, genres, mash it together and call it their own. It's something Girl Talk would get in trouble for doing.

"Sex" opens with a LCD Soundsystem reference. Healy signs: "And this is how it starts," opening the track in the same manner of "All of My Friends" from Sound of Silver. Though the premise is completely different, the influence is still there. Something tells me Healy has a great taste in music, but has been distorted by a certain buying and cult loving music scene. "Sex" has the best instrumental on The 1975, the loud guitar is reminiscent of bands like The Joy Formidable, and percussion too. The lyrics on the other hand are absolutely awful and could be that of Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift: "Twenty minutes before I drop you off, all we seem to do is talk about sex - she's got a boyfriend anyway." First of all, the character in person is an asshole, second, "Sex" carries on down this awful path of cuckold promoting bullshit: "Now we're on the bed in my room, and I'm about to fill his shoes." It ends with the worst written finale of 2013: "You've got your tongue pierced anyway, you're in your high tops any day, you're in your skinny jeans anyway, you and your fit friends anyway, I'd take them all out any day, they've all got back combs anyway, you've all got boyfriends anyway." This is grade A teenage angst and jealousy, it’s not for me.

The 1975 tries to sound something out of the ordinary. It's unusual for bands of this calibre to achieve so much in such short time with only EPs. Their audience is rapidly growing and this album will undoubtedly have successful sales and promotion from the likes of Radio One. Most of Radio One's and The 1975's deluded listeners are far out confused in their perceptions of what is a good album and what is a bad album. Tracks like "Talk!", "Settle Down", and especially "Heart Out" sound like Owl City, if Adam Young rented an electric guitar. You can tell The 1975 are going for the M83 sound, it's like a British take on Saturday's = Youth. That's for all to hear with the vocal shrieks on "Settle Down" and "Robbers". 

The 1975 does have a genre, its called new wave. The instrumentals on The 1975 are not far from tracks from Twin Shadow's Confess, or Washed Out's debut album Within and Without. Vocal wise, yes it's horrible and I can't listen to these songs for more than 10 minutes in a row before hating everything and everyone. This album however, is something for The 1975 to be proud of. It borders genres, eras, and influences in a 16 track debut album. Random listeners would disbelieve this is in fact The 1975's debut album, it sounds so crisp, finely produced without room for improvements. There are fun back album tracks like "She Way Out" and "Girls". It's the soundtrack to 80s nostalgic movies... It's just lacking the depth, energy, and vocal skill that I’d consider good enough to be playing in my free time. You can't expect miracles from The 1975, but expect them to have a future.