Starter Pack: The 1975

Where to begin with the FADER 118 cover stars.

September 12, 2019
Starter Pack: The 1975

In a new cover story on The 1975, The FADER's Larry Fitzmaurice writes that the band's lead singer, Matty Healy, has "the ability to hold forth on topics ranging from XXXTentacion and John Coltrane to Years and Years and FKA twigs’ Instagram account." Healy, a 30-year-old frontman and songwriter who's picked apart every trend and cycle the past decade-plus has thrown up, absorbs sounds and influences like a towel, and he wrings them out in the studio and on stage alongside bandmates Adam Hann, Ross MacDonald, George Daniel. Over the space of three studio albums, a slew of EPs, and the confounding singles that they've released in advance of their next LP, Notes on a Conditional Form, The 1975 have been difficult to pin down. Our latest Starter Pack, then, is a grab bag of personal favorites from the FADER staff — more capricious than comprehensive.

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"Love It If We Made It" from A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships (2018)

The spectre of ridiculousness has always loomed large over The 1975; from their earliest singles, Matty Healy and company sounded like a band desperate to be taken seriously, and one incredibly conscious of not slipping into the kind of full-blown grandiosity that could lose them that bid at seriousness. But as luck would have it, their eventual slide into absurd, outsized chaos just made The 1975 better. “Love It If We Made It,” from last year’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, finally lets the band loose: a surreal anxiety spiral of a pop song, “Love It If We Made It” finds despair in all corners of the world, from the environment to pop culture to the White House. From the song’s first seconds, Healy is full-speed-ahead, barely stopping to let listeners consider one politically-charged line before moving on to the next. Like four minutes spent scrolling the feeds, “Love It If We Made It” is sad and thrilling and overstimulating — and undeniably addictive. — Shaad D'Souza

"Somebody Else" from I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It (2016)

“Somebody Else” was actually the first song that I heard by The 1975. I can’t recall exactly what I was doing, but I do remember the circumstances of nearly all my subsequent plays: cruising through northern California with my mom one fall, sitting alone in an empty office, closing out the first party my roommates and I threw in our current apartment. I guess it's not that remarkable that “Somebody Else” is versatile enough to fit all of those scenarios, but in my head that is the mark of an incredibly well-crafted song. The streaky synths, the lush arrangements, the way Matty says “intertwining” in the hook. Yeah, he’s singing about heartbreak, but the soul-charging euphoria is real! Is it crazy to say that if I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life, I’d pick this song? Whatever, I’m playing it again. — Steffanee Wang

"Robbers" from The 1975 (2013)

It's strange to sit with the notion that I've "grown up" with The 1975; I was in high school already when I found them. But listening to "Robbers," that's exactly how it feels. It's a tale of two lovers, partners in crime who begin diverging in their ideologies as a heist gets out of hand. The man pleads for his enraged partner to reconsider her actions, all the while promising to remain loyal. Eventually they presumably murder a ton of cops and bystanders, expressed in a guttural wail from a 23-year-old Matty: "And I'll shoot him if it's what you ask / But if you'd just take off your mask / You'd find out everything's gone wrong / Now everybody's dead." Since their first album, Healy has penned introspections brooding on narcissism and its effect on his relationships, explored the weight of spiritual malaise as an atheist seeking God, and confronted the complexities of a world flirting with the apocalypse. So the 1975 has followed me through some of the most pivotal moments of my life, and each release mirrored a personal thematic evolution of my own ideologies. Maybe it's a reflection of these increasingly demented times; I'm certainly not alone in this relationship to them. But I hold on to this distant little work of fiction in The 1975's repertoire. We're grown up now, but it's still fun to escape and play "Robbers" for a little. — Nalae White

"Sex" from The 1975 (2013)

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Before The 1975 were a genre-devouring, future-defining beast, they operated in a much more traditional style. The stans may tell you different, but the band's debut album wears its indie influences on its leather jacket sleeve. That's not to say there are not merits to that era, though. "Sex," a song that starts off like Kings of Leon covering LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends," is a horny-romantic exploration of a teenage relationship that never quite blossoms. Like all great 1975 songs it's a headrush of emotions, some more brash than others, with Matty Healy bragging "my shirt looks so good / When it's just hanging off your back." Call it a problematic fave, call it a throwback to a simpler time; there's a reason The 1975 still end every gig with this hands-in-the-air anthem. — David Renshaw

“The Sound” from I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It (2016)

There’s a certain energy to the music of The 1975. It’s dizzying while remaining focused — a whip smart blend of music of the past (think ‘80s synths, over the top ‘70s rock, late ‘90s style) while carrying prose of that couldn’t be more of the moment. Matty Healy’s lyrics reflect the current cultural climate through shamelessly earnest proclamations of love. “The Sound” — one of the hits from I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it — is a perfect representation of when the band hits its sweet spot, a soaring, danceable anthemic track about the sound of a lover’s heart. Is it a little bit corny? Sure. But who fucken cares, man. The escapism of The 1975’s music is something that’s needed more than ever. Don’t overthink it. — Eric Sundermann

"I Like America and America Likes Me" from A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships (2018)

On “I Like America & America Likes Me,” the 1975 make a plea for a safer world, one without the constant threat of gun violence. “Kids don’t want rifles, they want Supreme,” sings Healey. “No gun required, or will this help me lay down?” His vocals throughout are absolutely drenched in autotune, cranked to a point where it nearly sounds like he’s gasping for air. The effect emphasizes the futility in having to articulate what they’re asking for here: will you please listen? There is always at least a smidge of hope in desperation, a glimmer that courses throughout The 1975’s discography. “I Like America & America Likes Me” contends that hope is not enough. — Salvatore Maicki

Starter Pack: The 1975