In the six years since Manchester band The 1975 released its first album, the band has expanded its subject matter, departing from the self-centered angst that defined its early tracks. Now, its music is still undeniably full of angst, but the band applies this uncertainty to all of society, not just individual relationships and experiences.
This summer, I had the chance to examine The 1975’s third album, “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships,” in my column, but this release differs greatly in tone, scope and style from its earliest album, “The 1975.” The band has grown so much in the five years between the release of its first album in 2013 to its third; instead of looking back or focusing just on themselves, the band members now envision the future, telling stories that transcend themselves by expanding their subject matter.
The four members had been making music with one another with each other nearly every day for 10 years before they released their first album. By the time they were signed to a label and were preparing to produce a full-length album after releasing four singles and four EPs, the band members realized they had already written many songs that could be polished into album material.
The long history that the members had built among each other explains why the band’s first album has the air of music that is self-centered and stuck in its own world; they had been sharing their social lives and emotional turmoil for a decade. Many songs simply illustrate scenarios between frontman Matty Healy and a girl that seems to flow out of the frontman’s memory: “When I’m closer to your height” in “Fallingforyou” and “And it’s so ironic / How it’s only been a year” in “You.”
The band’s first album is profoundly personal, and this intimate view into the members’ romantic lives skyrocketed them to fame and international acclaim. While a few months before, they were still wannabes finding opportunities to perform, the next second they had begun to tour around the world.
The 1975 initially wrote about specific feelings from their own lives, like the delicate balance of trying to voice your desires with a partner only to fear that, by making your love known, your relationship will crumble.
In songs such as “Sex” and “So Far (It’s Alright),” Healy reminisces on his past experiences without indulging an excessive sense of nostalgia. His honesty may have been acutely focused on himself and the band, but it still drew enough attention to launch his career.
On the band’s third album, “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships,” released in 2018, the anxiety and uneasiness that pervade the artists’ personal lives gets blown to societal proportions.
The band finally engages with a universe that is bigger than just the four members and their emotional folly on “Love It If We Made It,” one of the tracks off their third album. The lyrics describe a world in deep trouble and reflect on what has gone wrong in the world: police brutality, youth violence and the advent of weapons of mass destruction. Fans could empathize with The 1975’s specificity at one moment, but now they see a band more in tune with the suffering of the world around them.
My earlier column ended with the conclusion that The 1975’s third album could serve well as a transitional piece. As of writing this, the band has dropped three releases from its upcoming 2020 album, “Notes on a Conditional Form.” The latest release, “Frail State of Mind,” showcases the band returning to both its dreamy style and penchant for making its personal struggles public.
The 1975 ventured from the personal to the global, but I worry whether the band will simply end up falling back on its old tricks without finding a new road to forge for the years to come.
Ellie Yang is a junior in the College. Record Rewind appears in print and online every other week.