(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
The 1975 (2013), 5/10
I Like it When you Sleep (2016), 6.5/10
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (2018), 6.5/10
Notes on a Conditional Form (2020), 4.5/10

The 1975, a quartet from Manchester fronted by vocalist Matt Healy, debuted with the four-song EP Facedown (2012), containing the first version of The City, the four-song EP Sex (2012), the five-song EP Music for Cars (2013), containing Chocolate, and the four-song EP IV (2013), that contains the second version of The City. Inspired by the themes of emo and screamo of the previous decade, and by the bands that wed those themes to pop hooks (Taking Back Sunday , Fall Out Boy, Dashboard Confessional), the 16-song album The 1975 (Dirty Hit, 2013) is a journey in the past, updated to the electronic production techniques of the 2010s. Dance-rock of the 1980s is well represented by their signature songs: The City, Chocolate and Sex (somewhere between Inxs and U2). Talk evokes Peter Gabriel and Robbers mimics the structure of Police's Every Breath You Take. The bulk of the album consists of mediocre fusion of emo-pop and funk-rock with varying degrees of electronic arrangements (M.O.N.E.Y., Settle Down, Pressure). It is difficult to salvage any song from the second half, which means that this is really just a "greatest hits" of the EPs plus a handful of songs (notably Heart Out) that deserved to be in a fifth EP and a lot of filler.

Electronic arrangements made the 78-minute album I Like it When you Sleep, for you are so Beautiful yet so Unaware of it (Dirty Hit, 2016) more poignant but no less derivative. Love Me mixes David Bowie's Fame with Duran Duran (with a shrill synth that sounds like a theremin), and Ugh mixes Prince and disco-music. A Change of Heart is pulsing atmospheric synth-pop but without the hooks of the Pet Shop Boys. The frantic funk-rock She's American sound like a lightweight version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. A bit more original are the feverish singalong The Sound and the ragtime-soul Loving Someone. There is no question that their specialty is the pop ballad: the languid electronic Somebody Else evokes the era of the Tears For Fears, Paris is another Every Breath You Take clone, and especially the gentle elegy Nana borders on the dreamy folk-rock of Simon & Garfunkel. The trite synth-pop litany of Change of Heart shows the limitations of the format, and in fact the sleepy six-minute gospel-soul ballad If I Believe You is not too far from the world of Steely Dan. The 1975 have the time and the guts to experiment in a number of directions, from ambient music (the mysteriously static Please Be Naked) to shoegazing (the hypnotically distorted Lostmyhead). The Ballad of Me and My Brain is another nod at Peter Gabriel's avant-pop, and I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It morphs from a sophisticated glitch-dance a` la Four Tet into abstract soundpainting and finally into a hip-hop jam. The album is even longer than the first one, but this time there is little filler, and there are enough different version of the band to satisfy multiple audiences.

The 1975 converted to Radiohead-esque avant-pop on A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (2018): the robotic lament of I Love America and America Loves Me, the funk-jazz lounge ballad Sincerity Is Scary (with chaotic chirping of horns and gospel choir), the abstract soundpainting of the first half of How to Draw/ Petrichor. Everything sounds like dejavu (or, better, "deja heard"), from the stately aria of Give Yourself a Try to the carefully architected bouncy Caribbean-infected dance-pop Tootimetootimetootime, from Love It If We Made It (a tribal staccato progression a` la Fleetwood Mac's Tusk) to the childish singalong It's Not Living If It's Not With You. It's as derivative as it gets, but quantity compensates for quality: it is hard to find an album with so many well-executed fakes. Unfortunately, half of the album is taken over by the ballads, crooners that span a broad spectrum, from Frank Sinatra to Bon Iver: nocturnal and jazzy (Mine, bathed in a shower of strings and caressed by delicate saxophone), languid orchestral (Inside Your Mind and I Couldn't Be More In Love), shoegazing (I Always Wanna Die), acoustic (Be My Mistake), and, most creative at all, the bossanova-esque Surrounded By Heads and Bodies.

(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Pierluigi Napoli)

I 1975, un quartetto di Manchester guidati dal cantante Matt Healy, hanno debuttato con l’EP di quattro canzoni Facedown (2012), contenente la prima versione di The City, l’EP di quattro canzoni Sex (2012), l’EP di cinque canzoni Music for Cars (2013), contenente Chocolate, l’EP di quattro canzoni IV (2013), contenente la seconda versione di The City. Ispirati ai temi emo e screamo del decennio precedente, e alle band che hanno sposato questi temi con “ganci” pop (Taking Back Sunday, Fall Out Boy, Dashboard Confessional), l’album di 16 canzonni The 1975 (Dirty Hit, 2013) e’ un viaggio nel passato, aggionato alle tecniche di produzione elettronica degli anni 2010. Il dance-rock degli anni ‘80 e’ ben rappresentato dalle canzoni che costituiscono il loro marchio di fabbrica: The City, Chocolate e Sex (da qualche parte tra Inxs e U2). Talk evoca Peter Gabriel e Robbers imita la struttura di Every Breath You Take dei Police. La maggior parte dell’album e’ costituito da una mediocre fusione di emo-pop e funk-rock con un grado variabile di arrangiamenti elettronici (M.O.N.E.Y., Settle Down, Pressure). E’ difficile salvare qualche canzone della seconda parte, il che significa che questo e’ effettivamente solo un "greatest hits" degli EP con l’aggiunta di una manciata di canzoni (in particolare Heart Out) che meritavano di stare in un quinto EP e molti riempitivi.

Gli arrangiamenti elettronici rendono l’album di 78 minuti I Like it When you Sleep, for you are so Beautiful yet so Unaware of it (Dirty Hit, 2016) piu’ toccante ma non meno derivativo. Love Me mescola Fame di David Bowie con i Duran Duran (con un sintetizzatore stridulo che suona come un theremin), e Ugh mescola Prince e la disco-music. A Change of Heart e’ un synth-pop atmosferico e pulsante ma senza i “ganci” dei Pet Shop Boys. Il frenetico funk-rock She's American suona come una leggera versione dei Red Hot Chili Peppers. Un po’ piu’ originale sono il singalong febbrile The Sound e il ragtime-soul Loving Someone. Non c’e’ dubbio che la loro specialita’ e’ la ballata pop: la languida ed elettronica Somebody Else evoca l’epoca dei Tears For Fears, Paris e’ un’altra copia di Every Breath You Take, e specialmente la dolce elegia Nana rasenta il folk-rock sognante di Simon & Garfunkel. La banale litania synth-pop di Change of Heart mostra i limiti del formato, e in effetti l’assonnata ballata gospel-soul di sei minuti If I Believe You non e’ molto lontana dal mondo degli Steely Dan. I 1975 hanno il tempo e il coraggio di sperimentare verso numerose direzioni, dalla musica ambient (la misteriosamente statica Please Be Naked) allo shoegaze (la ipnoticamente distorta Lostmyhead). The Ballad of Me and My Brain e’ un altro accenno all’avant-pop di Peter Gabriel, e I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It si trasforma da una sofisticata glitch-dance a` la Four Tet in un astratto dipinto sonoro e infine in una jam hip-hop. L’album e’ persino piu’ lungo del primo, ma questa volta c’e’ meno riempitivo, e ci sono sufficienti versioni differenti della band per soddisfare un pubblico eterogeneo.

I 1975 si convertono ad un avant-pop in stile Radiohead su A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (2018): il lamento robotico di I Love America and America Loves Me, la ballata lounge funk-jazz Sincerity Is Scary (con cinguettio caotico dei fiati e coro gospel), l’astratto dipinto sonoro della prima meta’ di How to Draw/ Petrichor. Tutto suona come un dejavu (o meglio, "deja heard"), dalla maestosa aria di Give Yourself a Try al dinamico dance-pop con contaminazioni caraibiche accuratamente architettato di Tootimetootimetootime, da Love It If We Made It (una progressione di staccato tribali a` la Tusk dei Fleetwood Mac) al singalong infantile di It's Not Living If It's Not With You. E’ derivativo al massimo, ma la quantita’ compensa la qualita’: e’ difficile trovare un album con cosi’ tanti falsi ben eseguiti. Sfortunatamente, meta’ dell’album e’ occupato dalle ballad, crooner che abbracciano un ampio spettro, da Frank Sinatra a Bon Iver: notturno e jazzato (Mine, immerso in una doccia di archi e accarezzato da un sassofono delicato), orchestrale languido (Inside Your Mind e I Couldn't Be More In Love), shoegaze (I Always Wanna Die), acustico (Be My Mistake), e, il piu’ creativo di tutti, Surrounded By Heads and Bodies, in stile bossanova.

The 22-song Notes on a Conditional Form (2020), the second installment of the trilogy "Music for Cars", was launched after seven singles. The album begins promising with a mournful piano accompaniment to a speech by teenage environmentalist Greta Thunberg, The 1975, followed by the expressionist voodoobilly People and, again changing completely style and scenario, by the electronic symphonic interlude The End. This feels like shock therapy, But then comes the dance-soul shuffle Frail State of Mind, which, despite the angst-filled lyrics, is trivial, mellow and just artificial. More of these trite electronic disco ballads litter the album, from I Think There's Something You Should Know to What Should I Say. Worse: there's the embarrassing melodic blues-rock Roadkill, the obligatory tribute to synth-pop of the 1980s If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know), the tedious country elegy The Birthday Party, some really bad folk-rock in Me & You Together Song, the Phil Collins-esque ballad Don't Worry, all the way down to the moronic singalong Guys. The instrumental parts aren't much more original, with a simplistic (childish?) ambient interlude Streaming, and Having No Head that turns a subdued piano sonata into a techno locomotive The most fragile songs fare a little better: the ethereal anti-religious lullabye Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America and the acoustic Playing on My Mind. The best arrangements are to be found in the mock-gospel Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied and in the quasi-reggae Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy), but especially in the ethic electronic dance Shiny Collarbone and in the one song where the voice is actually used in a creative way, Yeah I Know, which boasts the only interesting beat on the album. Quantity is not quality, and semantics is not syntax. (Translation by/ Tradotto da Niccolò Bargellini)

Notes on a Conditional Form (2020), 22 brani, la seconda installazione della trilogia “Music for Cars”, viene lanciato dopo la pubblicazione di sette singoli. L’album inizia in maniera promettente con un triste pianoforte d’accompagnamento a un discorso della giovane attivista ambientale Greta Thunberg, The 1975, seguito dall’espressionista voodoobilly People e, di nuovo cambiando completamente stile e scenario, dall’interludio sinfonico-elettronico di The End. Sembra terapia dello shock, ma poi arriva lo shuffle dance-soul di Frail State of Mind, il quale, malgrado il testo infarcito di angoscia, è banale, dolciastro e semplicemente artificiale. Altre di queste trite ballate elettroniche e disco riempiono a casaccio l’album, da I Think There’s Something You Should Know a What Should I Say. Peggio: c’è l’imbarazzante blues-rock melodico di Roadkill, l’obbligatorio tributo al synthpop degli anni ’80 If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know), la tediosa elegia country di The Birthday Party, dell’orribile folk-rock in Me & You Together Song, la ballata à la Phil Collins Don’t Worry, fino al singalong idiota di Guys. Le parti strumentali non sono molto più originali, con il semplicistico (o infantile?) interludio ambientale di Streaming, e Having No Head che trasforma una sottomessa sonata al piano in una locomotiva techno. Le canzoni più fragili sono un pomeglio: l’eterea ninna-nanna anti-religiosa Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America e l’acustica Playing on My Mind. I migliori arrangiamenti si trovano nella beffa gospel di Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied e nel quasi-reggae di Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy) ma specialmente nell’etica dance elettronica di Shiny Collarbone e nell’unico brano in cui la voce è davvero usata in maniera creativa, Yeah I Know, che vanta l’unico beat interessante dell’album. La quantità non è qualità, e la semantica non è sintassi.