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The 1975 - The 1975 (Album Review)

Friday, 06 September 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh

Subjected to copious amounts of hype, the 1975’s eponymous debut follows on from four EP’s released since 2012. 'Facedown' was the first to arrive, with lead track The City causing a minor stir but things really began to take off for the Manchester quartet when the title track of second EP 'Sex' was championed by Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe.

The band have been together since around 2002 where they met at school; vocalist Matthew Healy – he of famous acting parents Denise Welch and Tim Healy – is joined by Adam Hann (guitar), George Daniel (drums) and Ross MacDonald (bass).  Performing covers, the boys began their career playing local venues as they worked their way through several name changes before settling on the 1975.

Their biggest hit to date – Chocolate, which charted in the UK at number 19 – will already be well known to the majority, with its infectiously catchy beat pounding out airwaves from far more radio stations than just Radio 1. Support slots for Muse and the Rolling Stones are further feathers in their cap, and enlisting the producing skills of Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Keane, Foals) is another key milestone.

Surprisingly, the band list such diverse acts as Prince, Brian Eno and My Bloody Valentine as influences, but it is the late filmmaker John Hughes that takes the biggest influence accolade, and this often results in songs that wouldn’t go amiss on the soundtrack to one of Hughes’ 80’s teen blockbuster movies.

Already garnering much praise, this collection has undoubted quality throughout but a whopping 16 tracks on a debut is rather excessive; consequently, there is not always as much variety as one would hope for on an album, almost feeling as if a few numbers have been churned out on a conveyor belt and included unnecessarily. That said, the overall quality demands attention.

Other than the poppy, synthy drum pummelling pattern of The City – which opens the album proper after a minute of ambient shoegazery that is the title track – and Chocolate, which is probably the best song here, other highlights are aplenty. Third single M.O.N.E.Y. is a very minimalist number sporting an 80’s synth feel with a handclapping beat and sugary guitaring while the aforementioned Sex is a shimmering pop gem with racing guitars layered over the top of non-too shy lyrics such as “we might as well just fuck”.

There is a distinct lack of noticeable bass on the record until Talk! with its spiky guitar riff, overall sounding not unlike The Police, particularly at the beginning.  After another ambient synthy interlude (An Encounter), the plodding synth beat of Heart Out represents another 80’s glossy, poppy number but is generally unremarkable.  The 80’s synth dominated sound continues for Settle Down, this time sitting alongside a twangy, funky guitar line.

The slower Robbers is a welcome break from the incessantly upbeat tempo, but this is only temporary as Girls returns to the norm.  It’s another good song but at this point the lack of variety is noticeable, and withanother five tracks to go it’s inevitable that some listeners may become a little bored.  There are similarities with Noah And The Whale at times, and She Way Out is a little in this vein, although the repetitive, catchy guitar riff prevalent here and elsewhere seems to save the 1975 from a closer likeness to the Twickenham band.

The slow, finger clicking minimalist start to Menswear does offer some variety before the track moves off into familiar territory once again; Pressure sounds like some earlier offerings, particularly The City in its early stages, but is undeniably another good song.  Finally, the album closer arrives in the shape of Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You and is an unexpected delight with its delicate, sparse piano and heartfelt vocals oozing fragility.

The hype machine may well have gone into overdrive for the 1975 but for the most part it’s justified; for a debut offering it’s one of the best of its type you will find this year.  What prevents it from reaching greater heights is its lack of variety, and despite two of the 16 tracks being mere musical interludes, 14 full tracks is two or three too many; if the three weakest tracks had been omitted, however, then the 1975 could easily have produced a debut album of such magnitude to be revered for years.

The 1975 UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Sun September 15th 2013 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE University
Mon September 16th 2013 - BIRMINGHAM Institute
Tue September 17th 2013 - GLASGOW O2 ABC
Wed September 18th 2013 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Fri September 20th 2013 - LONDON O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Sat September 21st 2013 - MANCHESTER The Ritz
Sun September 22nd 2013 - STOKE-ON-TRENT The Sugarmill
Mon September 23rd 2013 - LEEDS Stylus
Tue September 24th 2013 - OXFORD O2 Academy Oxford
Wed September 25th 2013 - NORWICH Waterfront
Thu September 26th 2013 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Sat September 28th 2013 - BRIGHTON Brighton Concorde 2
Mon September 30th 2013 - DUBLIN Academy
Tue October 1st 2013 - BELFAST Mandela Hall
Wed January 8th 2014 - MANCHESTER Academy
Sat January 11th 2014 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Fri February 7th 2014 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Sat February 8th 2014 - ABERDEEN Aberdeen Music Hall
Mon February 10th 2014 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Tue February 11th 2014 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Wed February 12th 2014 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Thu February 13th 2014 - CARDIFF Cardiff University Students Union
Fri February 14th 2014 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Sat February 15th 2014 - NORWICH Norwich Uea
Mon February 17th 2014 - BELFAST Ulster Hall Belfast

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