Although there has been a massive variety for as long as we can remember, popular music is pretty straightforward. Most musicians can be categorized into “rock” artists, “pop” artists, “country” artists, and “urban” artists. Those categories can be further broken down into about a hundred different genres and from there you could break off into potentially thousands of different sub-genres and crossover artists. But there have also always been artists who try to break the mold and become something different. They aren’t content to sit under one label and churn out the same old boring tunes as everyone else in the game. The band The 1975 is a group comprised of four such artists.
The 1975’s origin story dates back to 2002. The members of the band attended high school with one another and eventually started playing music together as teenagers. Frontman Matthew Healy formed the band when he approached lead guitarist Adam Hann and told him that he was interested in playing a gig organized by a local council worker. They then recruited bassist Ross MacDonald and drummer George Daniel and got their start playing covers of various punk songs at local gigs before they wrote their first song. They performed and released music under the names Me and You Versus Them, Forever Enjoying Sex, Talkhouse, The Slowdown, Bigsleep, and Drive Like I Do prior to settling on the name The 1975. Matthew came up with the name after he was inspired by notes written in an old Beat poetry book by Jack Kerouac dated “1 June, The 1975.”
The 1975 introduced the world to their sound by releasing a string of four different EPs prior to recording their first full-length album. Taking their curiously unique sound into account, this was a smart move. Some of their early cuts like “The City” and “Sex” can fit rather snugly into a general alternative rock category, but their most recognizable single “Chocolate” displays more polish and becomes a slower and smoother affair. Although George and Matthew argue against being a “pop band” at the beginning of their music video for “Girls,” the song is undeniably radio-ready pop-rock. The band even dips into instrumental territory with “Please Be Naked.” And as if inspired by the sound of their song “Robbers,” the band’s latest album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it places emphasis on ’80’s-ready synth-pop. Their singles “The Sound” (seen above) and “A Change of Heart” are great examples of that, but there’s no better piece of evidence than on the track “This Must Be My Dream,” which even comes complete with a saxophone solo!
Adding to the confusion is the band’s legion of teenage girl fans that you would suspect would be following One Direction or Justin Bieber, not a band that drinks on stage and whose frontman jumps around without a shirt during performances. Even MTV, who did a recent cover story on The 1975, doesn’t seem to be quite certain where to place the band in the lexicon of current music artists. They justifiably ponder whether fans are sleeping on The 1975 because of their teenage fanbase. Fortunately, the band itself isn’t concerned with it. In a quote from that story directly to MTV, Matthew stated, “Anybody of any kind of intellect understands that the most active people as consumers of music are young women. The most active people on social media, when you come to talking about music, are young women.”
Though anomalous, one thing is sure with The 1975: No matter what kind of music they’re creating, they manage to pull it off remarkably well. They’re arguably a pop-rock group, but with how well they’re able to transition between music genres and even transcend them, you can almost see them dropping an R&B or country-infused album later in their careers without stretching the imagination too far. They seem to be fine doing what they’re already doing, so let’s hope that doesn’t turn out to be the case. But if they did put their minds to something totally different for them, you know it wouldn’t be anything less than extraordinary. Which would just be so like them.
I like when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it and The 1975 are both available now.