The 1975: The 1975 (Dirty Hit)

Mancunian quartet deliver sterling debut set stuffed full of pop hooks

Released Sep 2nd, 2013 via Dirty Hit Records / By Dave Reynolds
The 1975: The 1975 (Dirty Hit) In a now-deleted YouTube interview The 1975’s frontman Matthew Healy described how in making the band’s debut LP, they wanted to make Thriller.

Perhaps that’s why the interview has disappeared off the face of the earth as that’s one hell of a mindset to have for a first full length. However, as barmy as it may sound, there’s a whole plethora of similarities between four guys hailing from Macclesfield, and the King of Pop.

When Michael Jackson made Thriller, it’s not too much of a leap to say that he was at the height of his musical powers. He had the experience of his time in The Jackson 5, it was on the back of Off The Wall, and he had Quincy Jones pulling the strings. Well, how is that anything like The 1975? The answer lies in the band’s history.

While perhaps not involved in childhood misappropriation caused by overbearing parents, the band known now as The 1975 have been playing together for over ten years. Having moved through various names, they’ve had the good fortune to be able to use this time to hone their sound and talents, allowing them to peak with their first, self-titled LP released through Dirty Hit.

Tracks such as ‘Sex’ and ‘The City’ are prime examples of this. For the album, they’ve both been reworked from previous The 1975 versions, and come through sounding convincing and widescreen in scope. However, these songs, along with ‘Chocolate’, have been in existence in one way or another for years.

Listening to this old version of ‘Chocolate’ is incredibly fascinating, mostly due to how incredibly beige it sounds. What’s so interesting is that, unlike many other bands, they’ve chosen to stick with some of these older tracks and bring them through, whereas other bands are often so keen to discard earlier work and focus on new tracks.

While The 1975 haven’t had the exposure that MJ had what they have had is time and experience in creating music. This is a huge contributing factor to the quality and depth of the album. Many of the tracks feel immediate and effortless in their conception and creation. But with the weight of time that’s clearly been spent in development, there’s such depth to every track.

The percussion throughout the record is a particular highlight, on a track like ‘M.O.N.E.Y’ we get beats sounding like doors slamming, bubbles bursting, and analogue fuzz balled up. It’s multi layered, full of depth, and doesn’t feel for a moment that it’s been overdone.

The homage to Thriller is also reflected in the unmistakable '80s aesthetic. And yet, it’s not a reference that’s there for nostalgic purposes, or to be kitsch. Instead, it’s an influence that’s gleefully celebrated. The sax riff that helps to close ‘Heart Out’ is a case in point; it’s there for the benefit of the track.

‘Settle Down’ whistles gleefully with keys, married with a positively bouncy bass riff that’s evokes Paul Simon in his prime while ‘Girls’ plays like an ode to Donna Summer’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ with lyrics like “Cus they’re just girls, breaking hearts.”

A debut album with 16 tracks should never be able to capture and hold a listeners attention, but The 1975 make a damn good stab at it, with a record littered with pop hooks and imagination. MJ would be proud.