Years from now, some may call it ‘The 1975 Paradox’.
It will apply to those artists that embrace anonymity and cover themselves beneath a blanket of secrecy, only for the fervour, hype and clamour around them to grow. Give ‘em nothing, everyone comes-a-knockin’.
This carefully constructed aura of mystique may not be new in the music industry – remember The Cuban Boys? Or even the press-shunning early years of The Stone Roses? However, few – if any - have executed this tactic so superbly as Mancunian 4-piece The 1975; a band clearly playing their own game, by their own rules. It’s a masterful marketing technique, refreshing in this Instagram-era of immediacy, fame-hungry desperation and disposability.
The 1975’s official line indicates that they were formed relatively recently, but in fact they evolved from earlier incarnations Big Sleep and The Slowdown, so they’re darkly insidious synth-pop is not the ready-made, complete package that it appears to be.
After making the playlists of influential Radio 1 DJs Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens, the band are already getting nationwide exposure and airplay thanks to their debut release, the ‘Facedown‘ EP, unleashed in August this year. Our only window into their secretive world, one fascinating aspect of the EP is the variation and diversity of the music within.
Its eponymous opener swoops and glides on a cloud of nu-gaze (can it still be called ‘’nu’’?) ambience. Multi-tracked vocal harmonies, tinkling pianos, synth drones and heartbeat tremors hint at the existence of a song – but confirm the existence of a mood. A startling opener for the EP, a brave one and most of all, an exceptional one
‘The City’ is what will have brought most people to The 1975, and is why ‘Facedown’ is such a brave opener. By comparison, this is commercial synth-pop guaranteed to reduce breathing space on indie-dancefloors across the land. The adaptability of vocalist Matt Healy is highlighted on ‘Antichrist’, as he climbs from a creamy baritone back to the crying yelp of ‘The City’. Meanwhile, closer ‘Woman’ strips back all layers to the ethereal simplicity of heartfelt vocals and finger-picked guitar.
This diversity is important. Far too many bands fall into the trap of being one-trick ponies, hitting on their formula and sticking to it. But once things get stale, any attempts to adjust leave them out of their depth and wanting – yesterday’s men.
The 1975 are different. If the four tracks from the ‘Facedown’ EP are anything to go by, then there’s a depth to their talent, a willingness to experiment, and a penchant for bravery.
If they keep this up, plan well and make the right next moves, 2013 could be so 1975.