After a hip-hop heavy summer, major music releases have taken a slight shift in emphasis to rock and pop, with John Mayer’s latest album getting rave reviews, JT getting everyone excited for his follow-up CD after the VMAs and Katy Perry and Lady Gaga squaring off with their latest singles and fall releases. However, through a wall of superstars, the smaller acts still manage to shine through and find success, just as indie rock group The 1975 have been doing with their self-title debut album, released Monday.
While The 1975 have been playing together since 2002, covering punk songs in worn-down clubs, they’ve only been recording since 2012. The group has released four EPs in the past year, but this is the first full-length studio album for the four-piece group out of Manchester, England. What they’ve done with this album is brought together the hit from each of their EPs and filled in the gaps to make this 16-track, fifty-minute experience.
Just as it’s near impossible to put a blanket description to alternative or indie rock, it’s hard to come up with a single band to compare The 1975 to. Stylistically, they’re all over the place, much like a lot of what is breaking out of England’s indie scene, such as Bastille or The Neighbourhood. Diverse as their track list is, they remain tied together by their punk roots that shine through no matter the setting. Vocally, lead-singer Matthew Healy could easily pass as Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump with a British accent. Lyrically, they keep it playful, abstract and current. These guys are young, all in their mid-twenties, but their lyrics focus on capturing universal teenage insecurities that no one can argue with.
The stand out track on the album is definitely the first single, Sex, which perfectly puts to words the amazing awkwardness of fooling around as a teenager. It’s also perhaps the most “punk” song in the truest sense of the word, focusing on authentic instrumental parts as opposed to some of the production-heavy tracks that fill the album. Also high on the list of standouts is Settle Down, a mid-tempo funk anthem that is infectiously addictive, as most songs with whistle lines usually are.
Several 80-second ethereal soundscapes litter the album, including the self-titled introduction and the two interludes An Encounter and 12. These tracks use heavy synthesizers, simple percussion patterns and dreamy vocal lines and serve as a sporadic reminder that this band can pull off whatever they want.
While you might not walk away from this album being able to call to mind each individual song, they’ve crafted it well enough to make sure you’ll find yourself humming hooks you didn’t even know you remembered. You’ll definitely be starring a few favorites to introduce to your friends, but those willing to try something new should take the album from start to finish to fully appreciate the pacing they’ve laid out.