MIDWEEK MOUTHPIECE // Just Who Is Talking About The 1975?

NB: After thinking about this article a bit, I feel I should preface it with this…

I rarely, if ever, write articles putting a band down. This is one of the very few in nearly five years. I don’t like The 1975‘s music. It seems fair to say so, and to explain why.

It’s also not fair to say all this without pointing out that being in a new band is hard work, and I honestly believe that The 1975 work hard, and believe in what they’re doing, as do their management, and as do their label.

I could have picked any band of their ilk, really, but I picked them, because they were the one that triggered all the below.

I also believe that the parameters of what constitutes a ‘new band’ has changed, and I don’t really agree with how they are presented to us, the public, a lot of the time. A lot happens behind the scenes that could leave a bad taste in our mouths.

But that’s not The 1975′s fault in any way. If you like their music, buy it, support them, tell your friends. But do remember to look for the music first. It’s always the most important thing.

- Joe

Have you heard of The 1975? The band, obviously, not the calendar year.

I only ask because it seems a lot of people are talking about the 1975, a young band who sound just like you’d imagine a young guitar band formed today would sound: slightly masculine (but not too masculine), with a song called Sex, which lends a sheen of slight edginess (but not too much edginess), and head-scratchingly influenced by the Landfill Indie titans of 2006.

They have nice haircuts. They have a professional media pack available for bloggers, broadcasters and newspapers. They seem to be nice guys.

And here’s the oddest thing: a lot of people are talking about them – witness their impact on the Hype Machine - but here I am in their hometown of Manchester (lots of articles mentions this, because it immediately and tiresomely links them with forebearers Oasis), and I haven’t heard anyone talking about them.

So who is it that’s talking about the 1975? And why?

They’re another guitar band who sound like any number of other guitar bands. Who are they appealing to? Why are people talking about them as opposed to any number of old bands they sound a bit like but better? Why would you listen to the 1975, and not the Pixies, say?

Here is some of the online praise for the 1975′s song, Sex:

Rooted in Britpop, the song touches on such relatable topics as desire, longing, and eventually, heartache, because “she’s got a boyfriend, anyway.” Suffice it to say, “Sex” is a single that definitely grows on you.

Sex, out on 11.20, encompasses the essence of the Manchester outfit’s anti-tribalist leanings & confirms their stance as magpies of culture + sound.

So far, so blah. Boxes are ticked. Britpop. Heartache. Boyfriends. These are topics that have all been played out over guitar pop a trillion times before.

(Oh, and here’s something interesting: that last quote about being magpies of culture and sound, which sounds really buzzy and snappy and carefully written by a PR person? Well, put it this way: maybe a whole bunch of writers thought exactly the same thought, or a whole bunch of blogs have just copied and pasted that quote and put it on their blog.)

So – again – why are these people talking about them, aside from the fact that they simply pasted the contents of a PR email? It has to be the novelty, doesn’t it? The sheer newness, the fact that 12 months ago, The 1975 didn’t exist, and now they do exist.

And it seems that this is enough. This is the level of expectation now, and the new system is a little bit like in Minority Report: a new ball pops out of a pipe with a new name on it, and then we focus a lot of attention on that name until we kill it as fast as we can.

I don’t hate the 1975. They just don’t interest me at all, because I feel that the music they’re making has been made a hundred times before, and there seems to be no reason to nudge a band like, say, Ash, out of my mind to find room for the 1975.

I honestly and sincerely hope the 1975 are given time to grow as artists and make music that moves me. But right now, The 1975′s sound, songs and approach to music isn’t new – only the fact that they are here at all. This is not enough. Not by any measure.

Meanwhile, another band from Manchester, Dutch Uncles, have recently and quietly finished their third album, and, having had the time and space to grow, recorded a song that glows, shines and charms. It has been playlisted on national radio. Go figure.

6 thoughts on “MIDWEEK MOUTHPIECE // Just Who Is Talking About The 1975?

  1. Some waffle – which is loosely related to what you’ve said here – some of which probably doesn’t make much sense – but is broadly around the concepts of ‘new music’ and ‘good music’ ‘indie bands sounding like stuff before them.’

    I have a vague theory about popular music reaching some sort of ‘middle age’. The slow spread of excess turning into comfortable forty something spread – its why (in particular) the vast amount of rock / indie music sounds like something gone before – because at middle age it becomes harder to become challenging / forward thinking anymore. That’s where indie rock is. Its metaphorically about 44 or 45 years old – grey hair, baldness and fat here we come.

    I also see guitar based indie / rock music being akin to folk music – that is it isn’t dying (as some journos like to suggest every year or so) but that it has become part of a tradition. Folk music has existed for centuries and has a renaissances every now and then (the rise of what has been known as nu-folk – Marling, Mumford, Noah & The Whale, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver etc) being an example. The trouble is tradition isn’t seen as being ‘dangerous’ or ‘sexy’ and its difficult for many people who have enthused in the past about rock / indie to accept that this genre is no longer innovative (in the main) and is just becoming a tradition.

    Tradition isn’t seen as being that intangible substance of cool right now. But new is– so maybe if The 1975 are pushed out by the PR gang they’ll be seen as cool just because they are new and nothing more.

    Once you’ve accepted rock / indie as tradition you can do 1 of 2 things. 1. Assign it all to the trash can in the some way that some people categorically hate folk music or 2. Discern between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ music – obviously a highly subjective thing.

    So if I’m in the camp of no.2 where I accept that this sort of music is tradition, but I can take that on and not necessarily look for innovation all the time (on the basis that good art doesn’t necessarily have to innovate but can simply be good on its own) then in puts me in a position where it is possible to like it or dislike it on the basis of what it is, but not against the context of good can only be innovative.

    Final thought. Where I live (Portsmouth) bands like The Pigeon Detectives, Maximo Park and The Rakes still sell out shows quicker than anything else. Like it or not there’s still a hunger for bands like The 1975 in a live setting – or certainly on the south coast. You probably won’t find me at their shows though – but that’s taste for you.

    Apologies for waffling!


  2. Thanks Robin!

    Firstly, your waffle is right at home on ANBAD.

    Secondly, I think you are onto something – guitar rock becoming a new trad-style is a smart theory, and does explain the basis of bands like this.

    I’d be interested to see at which point does the audience become sizeable but niche (like folk) and cease to become the mainstream focus of so many bloggers/tastemakers/etc?

    Cheers for the comment!


  3. Yes, I’m one of those individuals who talks about The 1975. Not because they’re Britpop inspired (despite being a BP junkie, I didn’t pick up on that, I see them more in the Placebo mold), but because I really like their deep drums.

    And I did see that quote about them in their PR, although I’ve kind of ignored that in writing about them.

  4. That seems to be same about a few bands who get blogger hype. Take Girls Names for example. They’ve been featured on Pitchfork, and if you type in ‘Belfast’ as a genre on Hype Machine, you’d think that they’re the only band from the city. Yet within Belfast, they don’t really draw massive crowds in line with that reputation. Although thank might have more to do with Northern Ireland not really having much of a blogging culture.


  5. I couldn’t agree more with this article. One thing, and maybe people will think it doesn’t matter, but The 1975 were around a year ago, albeit under a different name, that being BIGSLEEP. And a year before that they were The Slow Down. I saw them support Little Comets at XOYO when they were BIGSLEEP and they were extremely average; I know there was a lot of backing track going on so I wasn’t really sure how ‘live’ it was. Their singer is a good looking boy with an edgy hair do, but the guitarist and drummer are dreadful musicians, the former I’m sure didn’t play a note of his own that night. Why were they supporting Little Comets, through merit? Maybe, but interestingly they and Little Comets have the same management…hmmm.

    I’ve given the new EP a listen and, for a ‘guitar band’ there seems to be a lot of synth usage, when I saw them there wasn’t a synth on stage (although strangely you could hear one through the PA). I mean ‘Sex’ has a lot of guitars in it, but it sticks out like a sore thumb when you listen to all the other tracks. This really does stink of style over substance, they sound like a band who don’t even know what they want to sound like yet. Just a standard ‘see what sticks, and if nothing sticks, change the name and get back out there.’

    Hate is a strong word, and I agree I don’t hate The 1975, but interestingly they don’t list their label or PR team on their Facebook page. I’m guessing they’re signed to a major who are using their clout to get the band in the right places, it doesn’t matter what they sound like.

  6. I’m sorry sir, but you have no idea what you’re talking about here. First of all, they have been together as a band for 10 years, and simply never saw the point in releasing material because they all saw writing and performing as a hobbie. They are simply humbled by the fact that their material (since release) has blown up this fast! You say they’re not doings anything new? They are hardly a guitar orientated band either, and I would personally class them as more RnB than “indie” as you say. I think you should really research the band and their history some more and make an honest judgement.

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