I think it’s safe to say that many – including myself – were wrong about The 1975. The tide began to change when the follow-up to their critically-panned debut eponymous record, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, was received slightly warmer than its predecessor and topped the album charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Their third album, A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships, however, has seen many a critic eat humble pie. A record with a dizzying amount of experimentation and intensely laid-out themes, it’s an uneven but incredibly impressive record, that has genuinely seen the band become world beaters.
This record, completely and utterly esteemed in the world of pop music, has seen the Manchester quartet becomes artistes. From their studio output, to their impressive live outlays, frontman Matty Healy has become a true orchestrator of something quite special. Their Brighton headline show, at the relatively small (for them) Brighton Centre, exhibited not only that the group are the best British guitar band since Arctic Monkeys, but they’ve got the musical capacity to join pop’s elite. On this evidence – from the outrageously large scope of their stage design, including treadmills, huge screens and a titillating light show – they’re showing every bit of sheer pop bonanza of the ilk of Kate Bush and David Bowie.
From this show, too, it’s instantly clear that from back-to-front, The 1975 are a family. Showcased by their Dirty Hit label mates sharing the stage with them, both No Rome and Pale Waves excelled, and showed that they share much of the same audience. The former, who joined The 1975 during their set for a rendition of his single ‘Narcissist’, is a pop icon in the making. With dreamy vocals, and a smokey backdrop, The 1975 connection is more than clear on the night, but No Rome – real name Guendoline Rome Viray Gomez – has more than enough about them to impress in his own right. Likewise, Pale Waves continue to grow from strength to strength and, with their debut album now safely in tow, hits like ‘Eighteen’ and ‘There’s a Honey’ are going a long way to stamp the Manchester band as a staple pop act.
A lot has been said about The 1975’s latest record and its political, technological and action-packed themes, but initially what struck me about their show was the sheer entertainment of it all. From opening number ‘Give Yourself a Try’s anxiety-riddled riff, to ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’s almost hip-hop beat, the band not only have the live hits in abundance, but they know exactly how to use them. An almost perfectly balanced set, that never became tiresome which, considering its complete saccharine nature is mightily impressive, it was a masterclass in how to captivate a crowd.
Most refreshing and, honestly, quite passion-inducing, however, is the band’s connection with their fans. It’s there, too, because the band have always treated their mainly teenage audience as adults and, lyrically, they’re writing songs that are relatable and important to them. Whether it’s with a politically-charged statement on ‘Love It If We Made It’, or on mental illness with ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’, the band are truly the voice of this generation and Healy is the first true frontman of the millennial era.
From start to finish, the band are a sonic lesson in the pain of 21st century life; both visually and thematically they encapsulate the state of the world as it is right now and, crucially, young people are fully devoted and, in a world with small attention spans, that should be heralded for years to come. Simply, The 1975 are innovators of emotionally-charged pop music – and they do it in some style.