The evolution of The 1975, as told by 'The 1975'
“Cold out / Go down / Soft sound / Midnight / Car lights / Playing with the air / Breathing in your hair / Go down / Soft sound / Step into your skin? / I'd rather jump in your bones / Taking up your mouth, so you breathe through your nose”
If you’re a big fan of the little-known band The 1975 (who?), you’ll recognise these as the lyrics of not one, not two, but three of their songs. ‘The 1975’ serves as the opening number of all three of their albums – the most recent of which was released yesterday – and its whimsical poetry perfectly captures the band’s distinctive approach to lyricism. But while the words remain a constant, the composition of ‘The 1975’ varies widely from one album to the next.
Pushing aside the existential questions this approach creates (Is ‘The 1975’ three interpretations of the same song? Or three separate songs that share lyrics? Does finding the answer require diving further into Matty Healy’s psyche than humanly possible?), these self-titled album openers give us a rare opportunity to pin down The 1975 as they move between artistic statements. Let’s take a look.
The 1975 – ‘The 1975’ (i)
Just to complicate things further, The 1975’s first rendition of ‘The 1975’ is the opening number of their debut, The 1975. All part of the fun, right?
With Matty’s voice barely above a whisper, this silky synth-y mirage is a quiet introduction to the album, the calm before the storm. Like their first album as a whole, ‘The 1975’ (i) is a tuneful, relatively straightforward introduction to the indie band that rose to mass appeal in 2013.
The 1975 – ‘The 1975’ (ii)
The shortest opener of the longest titled album in popular history (probably), I like it when you sleep because you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it puts a welcome electro twist on ‘The 1975’. After a 20 second introduction rises and then cuts to silence, Healy finally breaks into song, now joined by a chorus of soulful choir singers.
It retains its predecessor’s echoey, pseudo-reality edge, but builds up to a big, swelling crescendo that cuts abruptly into the loud, blatant pop of ‘Love Me’; a stark juxtaposition if ever there was one. The game’s clearly been upped – The 1975 is louder, bolder and unabashed (put that on your sexy pink PowerPoint), and so is this opener.
The 1975 – ‘The 1975’ (iii)
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships sees ‘The 1975’ take another violent u-turn. A 30 second silence is slowly infiltrated by a light twinkling of piano, seemingly signalling a more stripped back approach, but if the choir twist on ILIWYSFYASBYSUOI (even more catchy in acronym) made Healy sound angelic, ABIIOR makes him sound robotic. Here, his voice is heavily distorted with synthesisers, and the rhythm of the lyrics also receives a shake-up.
It’s a bold, unpredictable interpretation on a song we thought we knew, just as ABIIOR is a bold, unpredictable interpretation of a band we thought we knew. ‘The 1975’ (iii) is another statement that The 1975 won’t be pinned down, despite the best efforts of their listeners, their label and their critics. Whether it’s actually an enjoyable listen is another matter (who cares about that these days?), but one’s thing’s clear: expect the unexpected.
It remains to be seen whether opening with ‘The 1975’ will continue beyond this initial trio of albums, but for a unshakeably bold band that’s brimming with infinite creativity, there’s surely many more interpretations of this 41 word song still be discovered. We only have to wait until next June to find out.