Release Date: Sep 3, 2013
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
1975 in British music was dominated by two acts: the unabashedly cheesy teen-pop of Bay City Rollers and the skilful blend of rock and r&b produced by Rod Stewart back before he became consumed in a hell of standards cover albums. If the former are regarded as something of a joke nowadays, the genre cross-pollination which was typical of Stewart at the time has become such a dominant staple of mainstream music that it’s a brave band who would dare criticise a modern descendent of Bay City Rollers – the indulgence offered to One Direction being an obvious example. The 1975 owe little to the music of that year yet this mingling of genres and ostentatious love of pop is integral to them.
The 2013 self-titled debut album from the 1975 is a superb album that finds the Manchester outfit poised on the brink of stardom. When rock guitars meet dancefloor synths, '80s influences become hard to deny, but while the 1975 definitely have a retro vibe (hence the name), the alchemy of how they bring those influences to bear is totally contemporary. While many of the tracks here bring to mind such icons as Peter Gabriel, INXS, and U2, they also fit nicely next to artists of the same moment, like Passion Pit, Temper Trap, and M83.
A few years back, an extraordinary proposition by the name of Palladium was set before the British public. Or, rather, it was flashed ever so briefly in front of them before it was decided this was a proposition in which the public had no interest. Palladium's debut album, despite being sent out to the media repeatedly, backed by a press campaign that verged on the hysterical, was never actually released, and Palladium ceased to be.
From apparently nowhere, The 1975 ambushed the airwaves, drenched in leather and a gloss so bright you need SPF 15. Instantly oozing Top 40 appeal, the Mancunian foursome unfurled a slew of EPs and singles, summoning a palpable buzz for their eponymous debut LP. You’d be forgiven for assuming that they’re a fledgling outfit due to the suddenness of their arrival into our peripherals, but in reality, they’ve been performing together for a decade under various guises, only last year settling on their current moniker.
After releasing four EPs over the past year, Manchester-based quartet the 1975 have released one of the most talked about debuts of the year. The 16 tracks deal with youthful anxieties over love, sex, and growing up through a pastiche of styles and sounds. It’s true that The 1975 pulls from music in the past, but 1975 is rarely present. 2004’s emo choruses, 1986’s stadium reverb, the late ‘70s slinky funk guitar rhythms are all here in full force, but 1975’s progressive rock bombast or its smoke singer-songwriter folk is noticeably absent.
For teenage Anglophiles, The 1975 is probably the next great coming. The Manchester quartet started playing music together 10 years ago, when band members were just 14-year-olds in secondary school, and its debut album represents a portrait of growing through adolescence. At an extended and inconsistent 16 tracks, The 1975 is the culmination of years of writing and four previously released EPs.
The saga of the 1975 is odd and protracted: Once upon a time, in 2011, there was a perfect Jimmy Eat World mall-emo anthem called "Sex" by a Manchester band called the Slowdown. The black-and-white video showed four telegenic people with perfect haircuts performing near a carefully placed Johnny Cash poster, clearly a month or two away from fulfilling their destiny on the cover of several American magazines. Except that never happened, and, in fact, it seemed that someone had made a number of mistakes-- the band may have actually once been called Drive Like I Do, or maybe the Big Sleep, and in fact already might not be called the Slowdown anymore.
Heads were definitely turned when the self-titled debut album from British four-piece The 1975 hit number one on the UK albums charts in its first week, beating out the return of Nine Inch Nails. The genre-bending 16-track effort is the culmination of the sounds from the four EPs the band has put out in the past year, equal parts haunting synthpop hooks and breathy lyrics about sex, drugs, and life in the city, as well as explorations into plenty of new sounds. The production assistance from Mike Crossey colors things, his previous work with Arctic Monkeys and particularly with Foals showing through as a large influence on the sound that the band is clearly refining into something special.
The 1975 could use some enunciation lessons and an editor: Their debut, a Top 40 hit in America, is a long, often inscrutable set that rifles through synth-rock references like Neon Trees doing a poor M83 impression. Their would-be smash, "Sex," is LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" via the Killers' "Somebody Told Me," but the LP mostly forces unconvincing emo lyrics into a bloopy 1980s package. .
The debut album by this Manchester, U.K.-based quartet follows a series of EPs and includes re-recorded versions of several tracks (“The City,” “Sex,” “Chocolate”). Their sound is hard to pin down; while it’s primarily built around guitars, bass and drums, there are synths underpinning nearly every song, and the rhythms have a bounce lifted from urban pop—“Chocolate” has an almost boy-band buoyancy, making it an ideal summer single. Their major-key melodies and ’80s guitar sounds avoid the moody post-punk dress-up games played by too many current bands, recalling instead new wave-era outfits like General Public, Fun Boy Three and Wang Chung.
1975. Charlie Chaplin is knighted, Volkswagen introduces the Golf, and Saturday Night Live makes its TV debut. Bill Gates coins the term ‘Micro-soft’, Sony wants the world to use Betamax, and David Beckham is born. None of these facts, of course, are particularly relevant, but each are infinitely more interesting than anything from this, the self-titled debut from The 1975.Just where do the Manchester four-piece imagine they’re coming from – or going to? If, as their Wikipedia page suggests, they’re “alternative rock”, then not only is there a lack of both “alternative” or “rock”, but the whole effort’s far too synthetic; like a supermarket brand pair of imitation Converse.