Indie Bands You Should Know About: The 1975


It’s been far too long since I’ve posted on this website. I gotta tell you YGM: it feels damn good to be back. Today I’m gonna reprise the “Indie Bands You Should Know About” segment of the site (which hasn’t really been used recently). Now I’m sure many of you lovely readers are thinking to yourselves, “Dude… We know who The 1975 are… That ‘Chocolate’ song is on the radio all the time.” Please just read this post anyway. I promise it’ll be worth your while.

A friend recommended that I listen to “Chocolate” around March and received a polite nod and a forced chuckle. “Yeah I’ll check it out,” I said. I dismissed her recommendation as another “girl-hears-catchy-indie-song-and-wants-to-tell-the-music-junkie-about-it-to-sound-knowledgable” scenario. Shockingly, another friend of mine (whose opinion on music I tend to put more stock in) also told me to check out The 1975. This time when I said I’d look into them I wasn’t kidding.

The first time I heard “Chocolate” I danced around my basement like an idiot. I really shouldn’t admit that here, but I just want everyone to understand exactly how infectious I found it. I liked that it was dancey. I liked that I could listen to it and still hear rock influences. I liked that they used “chocolate” as a euphemism for drugs. So the catchy single made its way onto my iPod around the same time it was getting picked up by AltNation.

Fast forward to about August. My friend mentions she downloaded The 1975’s EP. I think nothing of it, just making a mental note to try and check it out at some point. She later tells me that they covered One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” WHAT? THAT’S CRAZY! I gotta check that out, right? That was when I realized that The 1975 were far more than just a one-hit wonder AltNation sensation. The Live Lounge One Direction cover stood in stark contrast to “Chocolate.” Where the band’s single appeared to ride the wave of the Passion Pit sound that took the indie music scene by storm, their One Direction cover owed more to the woozy soundscape of The Weeknd, with piercing guitar laments and steady electronic drums underscoring frontman Matthew Healy’s gritty vocals.

I gave their full-length debut, The 1975, a listen. While the albums as whole definitely utilized the same endorphin-inducing catchiness displayed on “Chocolate,” it also owed a lot to an impressive number of other influences. The vintage ’80s glam rock guitar lick that opens up “Girls,” the pulsing dance beat that pushes “Heart Out” forward, the groovy riff that introduces “She Way Out”; the band’s musical talent is impressive. A personal highlight for me is the mind-melting piano ballad closing track “Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You.” And in addition to just sheer musicality, the band displayed a knack for weaving dark lyrics into synth-pop grooves that’s reminiscent of Passion Pit and The Limousines. Lines like “Now everybody’s dead/And they’re driving past my old school/And he’s got his gun, he’s got his suit on” are delivered in a desperate wail that still manages to make me want to smile.

After taking note of the band’s talent, I went back into their discography to listen to their earlier work. The 1975 is not only not a one-hit wonder band, not only a band able to weave together a variety of influences to create a wonderful synth-pop album; they are a tour-de-force able to create music that burns straight through genre divides. If Justin Vernon experimented with more electronic instrumentation, he might have written something similar to “Fallingforyou” off of the band’s IV – EP. On Music for Cars – EP, the band goes from “Head.Cars.Bending,” an indie musical mosh pit with traces of Yeasayer and Dirty Projectors, to “Me,” a gorgeous lilting electronic ballad that immediately brings Oliver Tank and downtempo M83 tracks to mind.

I’ll spend hours complaining about the lack of diversity in the indie music world. So many bands are riding a wave of upbeat synth grooves that the originality of the time when The Arcade Fire and TV on the Radio dominated the scene is almost gone. Indie bands making innovative music are out there, they’re just buried under a wave of what the radio knows will sell to audiences. I have hope that The 1975 are part of the next indie-pop era, bringing fresh sounds back to the radio stations. Check out some personal favorite tracks below.

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Jason Sloan

I was brought up on a crazy combination of the Spice Girls and Bruce Springsteen... 17 years later, I've shed my Spice Girls roots and grown to love pretty much everything musical under the sun. I got into punk rock when I was 9 and my mom watched Green Day perform "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" on the Grammy's. When I was 12 my mom bought me a book called "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die," and as she puts it, "the monster was born." I got into rap in middle school hearing Eminem's "Lose Yourself," and I got into EDM this year when I head the Albin Myers remix of Avicii's "Fade Into Darkness." I try and go to concerts when I have sufficient time and funds, some of my favorites having been Rise Against and Springsteen (who I've seen three times each). Hope you all enjoy my music as much as I do. 


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