The 1975 Get Funky with “Love Me”

"Love Me" - The 1975

There has always been more to The 1975 than meets the eye. Last year, frontman Matthew “Matty” Healy went so far as to proudly state, “We don’t sound like any band that’s ever come from Manchester.” Healy’s statement was not far from the truth: The 1975 offered a distinctly different sound on their 2013 debut – “We are kind of like the ‘new’ Manchester band,” is how Healy put it. In light of The 1975’s rise to popularity, their ethereal brand of soundscape-y, 80s-inspired pop – the very music that made them unique to their time and place – has taken off, with new artists borrowing from and citing influence in The 1975. Meanwhile, Healy and the gang have been hard at work touring the world – so hard, in fact, that concert tracking site Songkick named The 1975 “the hardest working band of 2014” for playing more shows and covering more ground within a calendar year than any other artist in the past five years.

And then, things went dark for The 1975. The band’s last recorded show was supposedly in Tokyo this January; otherwise, The 1975 have kept quiet, presumably hibernating after that which was the year 2014 for them, while figuring out what direction to take their highly-anticipated followup.

The thing about followups is that there will always be immense pressure on an artist coming off a successful record: All eyes are on them, wondering the same questions: What they’re going to do next; if they’re going to sound the same; and how they might further develop their sound. Healy answered some of those questions in our interview last year: “We’re not going to rush off and do something drastically different because of being validated, that’s just fucking stupid.”

Perhaps it’s not for the sake of being validated, but with their massive mid-year rebranding and cryptic messages, it definitely feels like the band rushed off and did… something. They’ve been hinting to their fans – “I’d say 17-year-old girls is probably bang-on our demographic” – about new material and carving out a new artistic identity for months now. Finally, the band have something to show for it: Their new single, “Love Me,” the first off a supposed 2016 record, debuted in the UK at midnight on October 9th.

The 1975's new branding

The 1975’s new branding

Not surprisingly, “Love Me” carries about it a distinctly The 1975-ish vibe, but it is not what one would expect from the self-proclaimed ethereal/ambient pop band. In fact, “Love Me” consciously lacks The 1975’s trademark ethereal/ambient elements, instead opting for the new wave/post-punk type aspects seen in songs like Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House.” The same effected guitar that used to drone and echo is now used in light, funky spurts, contributing as much to the rhythm as it does to the melody. Healy, in turn, sings less like a crooner than in previous works, jumping about with his vocal melodies and incorporating musical articulations – staccato, etc – that add emotional depth to the music.

This is undoubtedly a new direction for The 1975. It remains to be seen if “Love Me” really heralds a new musical identity for The 1975, or if it’s the “Shattered” in a new pack of tunes that more closely resemble the band circa 2013.

If anything, The 1975 certainly talk a good game. The lyrics support everything they’ve been asserting in recent months, especially in regard to the denial of their rock stardom. Whether the lyrics are an inward or an outward criticism is not as important as the fact that they are a criticism of overinflated egos, and that they point the finger at those who lose touch with reality on the basis of self-absorption:

You’ve been reading about yourself on a plane, fame for a change
Caught up in fashion, Karcrashian panache and a bag of bash for passion
You’ve got a beautiful face but got nothing to say (Oh)
“You look famous, let’s be friends and portray we possess something important”
And do the things we’d like

“We’ve just come to represent a decline in the standards of what we accept!”
Yeah?!… Yeah?!?….Yeah!?!?… No

The 1975 have a history of writing songs based on personal experience. Of their debut, Healy noted, “All of the album is a true story. It’s mainly just quotes.” If the same holds true for “Love Me,” then this song serves as an admission of wrongdoing – the band’s personal apology to themselves for losing track of what matters most: The music.

For in the end, that’s all these guys are: Four friends who happen to make sounds together, and since people enjoy the sounds they make, they get to travel the whole world showing off their sounds. They are still mortal; no matter how rich or famous they get, they will still fade – maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday.

The 1975

The 1975 neon logo

In point of fact, The 1975 have come to a realization that some artists go their entire careers, and still others their whole lives, without grasping. That sort of maturity is especially respectable in a band whose main demographic consists of teenage girls. Having successfully navigated the storm of material wealth that comes with musical success, The 1975 have returned with a newfound energy and self-awareness.

“Love Me” is not “Chocolate;” it is not “Sex;” it is not “Robbers,” “Girls,” or “Settle Down;” it is an entity unto itself: New, polished, and different. Fans may like it or hate it, but it took The 1975 ten years to get to their first album and thirteen years to get to this exact moment in their timeline. If this is the music they want to make, then this is the music they are going to be making. Experimentation is key to an artist’s growth, and “Love Me” is highly indicative of new explorations.

Of course, any message from The 1975, no matter how humble it may be, does not come without Matty Healy’s characteristic tongue-in-cheek. The 1975 have returned from this year’s slumber; they are ready to be the hardest working band of 2016. Their ever-vigilant social media fan base is about to flip out. But that is no longer the band’s concern: This is not about the fans, so much as it is about the music and the connection that the music fosters between people. To all their adoring fans out there, The 1975 pass along this message:

Love me, if that’s what you wanna do.

Watch: “Love Me” – The 1975

Love Me

You can follow The 1975 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

The 1975 banner

“Love Me” – The 1975

lyrics

Hey! Would you like to look outside sometimes?
No! I’m just with my friends online and there’s things we’d like to change!
Next thing you’ll find you’re reading about yourself on a plane (Fame!)
What a shame! Oh!
Well, just keep looking, looking, looking

And love me (Yeah)
If that’s what you wanna do (Oh, yeah)
And love me (Yeah)
If that’s what you wanna do (Oh, yeah)

You’ve been reading about yourself on a plane, fame for a change
Caught up in fashion, Karcrashian panache and a bag of bash for passion
You’ve got a beautiful face but got nothing to say (Oh)
“You look famous, let’s be friends and portray we possess something important”
And do the things we’d like

“We’ve just come to represent a decline in the standards of what we accept!”
Yeah?!… Yeah?!?….Yeah!?!?… No

And love me (Yeah)
If that’s what you wanna do (Oh, yeah)
And love me (Yeah)
If that’s what you wanna do (Oh, yeah)

Oh so sack off your calendar (Give it to the people!)
Be the man that gets them up on their feet

And love me (Yeah)
And love me (Yeah)
If that’s what you wanna do (Oh, yeah)

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York’s many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch’s words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing.
Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com