Thanks to a few catchy singles, The 1975 have found themselves on a lot of people’s ‘band to watch’ list. Their slick, 80’s indebted production, raunchy subject matter and frontman Matthew Healy’s distinctive yelp have helped put them on the map but until now it has been hard to tell exactly how much substance there is underneath their attention-grabbing style. The answer, as it turns out, is quite a lot actually. The 1975 is a great debut.
Firstly, let’s talk about those singles. Placed near the front of the album, the beat driven The City, the lilting Chocolate and the searing Sex are all fantastic and get things off to a great start. They’re among the strongest tracks on the album but they’re given a run for their money by the utterly infectious pop of Girls. Already earmarked as the band’s next single it deserves to be a hit. There are other highlights here too. With its pulsing synth and “hey!” backing vocals, Heart Out sounds like a mix of M83’s Midnight City and College and Electric Youth’s A Real Hero and is exactly as enjoyable as that sounds. The slow burning crime saga Robbers is a surprisingly moving effort that proves the band can be just as successful when they strip back, as does the very pretty piano ballad closer Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You.
So that’s 6 or 7 great tracks then but what of the remainder of this ambitious 16 track debut? Well there’s a trio of short instrumental passages for one thing and while they are unlikely to be anyone’s favourite songs here, they succeed in adding a bit of colour to the album and keep the pacing fluid. Then there’s M.O.N.E.Y, a strange robo-funk odyssey that, while not entirely successful, certainly shows the band is willing to spread their wings a bit. After that? Well the remaining tracks are all pleasant enough but can’t help but feel like lesser re-writes of the band’s finer moments. Settle Down for example, borrows the guitar line from Chocolate and the “hey!” vocals from Heart Out but fails to match either.
Whilst it does leave a handful of forgettable tracks, The 1975 is such a well paced, coherent album that these lesser moments aren’t a problem – it’s never long until the next great moment. We already knew they had style to spare but with their debut, The 1975 prove they have enough substance to sustain a full-length album. Here’s hoping they can do it again.