This guy would not leave me alone about The 1975. Over the course of the last few months, I must have received upwards of 20 emails from a PR guy at a record label plugging this band and where there might have been initial curiosity, it was deadened by the sheer fact of repetition and saturation. If I was ever going to be interested in The 1975, I would have followed the link in that first email. Dozens more down the track and my enthusiasm for the band was waning, hard. And then, as most good things do, The 1975 and this track ‘Chocolate’ popped up on my Hype Machine feed today and that long-dormant curiosity got the better of me. So I started listening. And almost immediately, I realised what a mistake I’d made. The 1975 were in fact the band I declared ‘left me wanting more‘ two years ago in May. So disenchanted was I with the onslaught of promotional material for the band that I never got around to listening to their much-hyped tracks, the new songs featuring the ‘blunt lyricism’ and ‘Kings of Leon-feel’ of a band I’d dug: B I G S L E E P. I thought the Raymond Chandler-borrowing moniker was ridiculous at the time and so, apparently, did someone at their label. And so, The 1975 arrive in their third iteration – no longer Drive Like I Do, no longer B I G S L E E P but the re-re-branded Mancunian four-piece The 1975.
As much as names have deceived me when it has come to keeping tabs on the development of this band, it’s the names of their tracks that have usually won me over in the first instance. ‘Sex’ was the first song of theirs I heard back in early 2011 and it was likely the song’s title more than anything that grabbed me. It’s fairly difficult to call a song ‘sex’ and then deliver in a way that the billions of people who regularly partake in the act will think reasonably does justice to the sentiments the term conjures up. ‘Sex’, all sharp, jangly guitars and desperate, searching vocals, was a powerful single. While amateurism can be a curse, with B I G S L E E P, the raw, untempered quality of the track really resonated. ‘Chocolate’ continues the band’s legacy of choosing song names that reflect a few of my favourite things but, while still obviously the same group, sounds more refined, more thoughtful than the unbridled emotion of some of their earlier work. On the way to becoming The 1975, B I G S L E E P picked up a Zane Lowe ‘Hottest Record In The World’ recommendation as well as legions of fans that helped them sell-out a 24 date tour late last year. The same sense of urgency underpins ‘Chocolate’ as it did ‘Sex’ (no pun intended) but there’s an awareness of songwriting finesse here that makes ‘Sex’ appear a bit rougher (n.p.i), more demo-like.
It seems a ridiculous proposition to suggest that you like a song merely for its ‘feel’ but that is the very definite sense I get with The 1975. There is not necessarily one particular aspect of this track that makes me want to love it. In many respects, the tropical-infused alternative rock feel of the piece is reminiscent of Bombay Bicycle Club’s more up-tempo work. Instead, it’s the sum, stronger and more impressive than specific attributes, that overwhelms the parts to make ‘Chocolate’ a compelling listen even when demarcations between verses and choruses aren’t readily identifiable and the thick Manchester accent makes the lyrics more inscrutable still. There is some confluence of factors – enthusiasm, competency, youth, fearlessness and reckless confidence, I suppose – that impresses me about The 1975. It’s this keenly defined sense of self that pervades their work that I get swept up in. When you’ve worked out your appeal this well, 1975 or B I G S L E E P, amateurs or burgeoning professionals, ‘Sex’ or ‘Chocolate’, things are bound to work out.
The 1975 – Chocolate