Single Review / Essay: The 1975 – Love Me

By on Monday, 2nd November 2015 at 11:00 am
 

At the end of May 2015, The 1975 posted ominous messages and deleted their Facebook page. It was part and parcel of their embarking on what can be now looked back at as a brilliant marketing ploy that could only be interpreted as giving two fingers towards the very industry and fan base that had given them fame and fortune and put them on a pedestal as indie rock gods. Having watched their star steadily then meteorically rise with interest and curiosity since writing this Bands to Watch on the Manchester band 3 years ago, I was confused. Looking at this new cartoon manifesto in which Matty was depicted as a pink hostage, I asked myself, was there some kind of deeper political meaning to all of this? Or had they just finally flipped out, stardom going to their heads and destroying them? Like the rest of their fan base, albeit with less asphyxiation than their average teenybopper fan, I thought it was the end of the road for them.

Last week, the band – frontman and guitarist Matthew ‘Matty’ Healy, guitarist Adam Hann, bassist Ross MacDonald and drummer George Daniel – returned with a video for ‘Love Me’, purported to be the first taster for their upcoming sophomore album ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’, the follow-up to their monster self-titled debut album released in autumn 2013. As if he had been anticipating the fingers wagging at him about what had happened back in May, Healy wrote the following message for the press release of ‘Love Me’:

With ‘Love Me’ we wanted to capture the neon-hued enthralling acquisition of success and excess, the screaming momentum, the sexy daze. Everything is REDICULOUS! [sic] But, is it? The only art worth any investment is art that makes one feel personally addressed. A simple truth, or set of truths, that galvanises an awareness and passion within an individual and in doing so immerses the individual into a sense of shared experience and community founded upon that same personal connection or experience. Too many artists care what others think. We are for the ‘community’! A non-linear observation on everything that has been and what will become. A lack of understanding of the world we are living in. The post-ironic notion of the modern world. Selfie mythologizing. Creating how we consume. Fragments of culture. Not settling for what you’re given. WE’VE JUST COME TO REPRESENT A DECLINE IN THE STANDARDS OF WHAT WE ACCEPT.

Listening to ‘Love Me’ takes us all back to the ’80s, a decade known for its excess, its colour, and the funky guitar feel of now classics such as INXS’ ‘New Sensation’ and Peter Gabriel’s ‘Big Time’. The overall feeling is still pop, but it’s a very different style of pop than what appeared on The 1975’s debut album. The song itself is fine: as a pop song, it’s amusing enough, but it’s not earth-shattering. I don’t think that was the intention anyway.

In both the song and the video, the band are poking fun at archetypes and lifestyle of that era – a dark- and curly-haired sex symbol wearing makeup and fronting a band (RIP Michael Hutchence); girls in loud, bright-coloured dresses looking pretty and not playing guitar (Robert Palmer’s ‘Simply Irresistible’ girls); champagne and jacuzzis. We might be 2 decades ahead of that time now, but celeb star power is stronger than ever, so why not go ahead and poke?

Directed by Diane ‘Diamond’ Martel, the video fits what the lyrics say and rather fittingly, they also match what the aforementioned cartoon back in May seemed to be doing. The 1975 are mocking the establishment and mocking all their fans who have been following them around like puppy dogs because they think celebrity and fame – what ultimately all bands want and need, in addition to getting paid and paid well – isn’t and shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all.

The problem, of course, in this era of massive consumerism, selfies and selfie sticks, and self-entitlement, isn’t this how bands achieve stardom, especially those like The 1975 who have a young fan base? There’s the additional problem of stardom by association, such as the infamous time last year Taylor Swift showed off hanging with her girlfriends, fellow pop princesses Selena Gomez and Ellie Goulding, at one of their concerts. (Yes, I groaned inwardly upon hearing about that video and knowing what it was going to do. Hey, I found them 2 years before you did. Hands off, Tay Tay! )

When I met Matt Healy at a blahblahblahscience day party on Maggie Mae’s rooftop at SXSW 2013, he thanked me for us at TGTF writing about them and like any good Northern boy I’ve ever known, he kissed my cheek when we said goodbye. I was blown away by his niceness and his charisma then and every time I’ve seen or met him since. I interviewed Healy before The 1975’s first-ever show in DC, at DC9. Scuttled away in a room, away from the maddening crowds, he was a shy, softspoken, thoughtful artist hiding under a fedora who’d just happened to given a diary with a date written out as “The 1975” and was impressed so much by that phrasing that he wanted to name his band after it. As we sat there talking, I had to wonder to myself if he and the band were ready for the fame that awaited them.

I agree completely with Healy that “The only art worth any investment is art that makes one feel personally addressed”: that is, in the context of being a music fan, you should be a fan of an artist or a band because their art, their music, their sound is what moves you, stirs up your passion inside. Reading through Healy’s words again, I think it’s to get lost in what he’s saying and also come to different conclusions.

If indeed you take his parting thought “WE’VE JUST COME TO REPRESENT A DECLINE IN THE STANDARDS OF WHAT WE ACCEPT.” at face value, doesn’t that mean, then, that the band have accepted their place in the music industry machine, that what they’re doing is making pop music and not true art? But at the same time, him writing that paragraph in the first place also suggests a coyness summed up in “Everything is REDICULOUS! [sic] But, is it?” What is ridiculous, and what is what Healy refers to as “a simple truth”? Like the human condition, the answers to those questions are different for each and every person.

All of this taken together, it’s entirely unclear what the rest of ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’ will sound like. So there’s nothing else to do but wait and anticipate the release of the new album early next year.

Checkmate.

7/10

‘Love Me’, the newest single from Manchester hitmakers The 1975, is out now on Dirty Hit Records. ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’, their second album, is purported to be released in February 2016. For all of TGTF’s coverage of The 1975, go here.

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