The 1975’s bombastic self-isolation anthem
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? The flaming fist of a vengeful deity? Perhaps a fleet of morbidly fascinated aliens back (with space snacks) for the next episode in Earth’s tragic mini-series? Trick question. It’s pop polymorphs, The 1975, digitally descending from the cloud to bless our weary souls with new music. Beaming across the planet last Friday, If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know) marked the seventh single from their forthcoming album Notes On A Conditional Form scheduled for release on the 22nd of May. If the six previously released singles are anything to go by, each one so distinct from one another, we’re in for a real treat.
A quick rewind.
The NoACF teaser-trail kicked off with the traditionally self-titled The 1975, a swelling orchestral soundscape featuring a powerful call to action from Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. People followed; a riotous, punk cacophony. Frail State Of Mind saw a nod to glitchy, garage roots and The Birthday Party floated hazily into the realm of trip-pop. Me & You Together Song served American teen flick nostalgia in a brimming red Solo cup and, finally, Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America marked a tender, acoustic shift featuring Phoebe Bridgers.
There’s no denying, though – Too Shy (as I’ll fondly refer to it) finds The 1975 at the dizzying height of their powers. Opt for the extended version over a cut to the chase radio edit and you’ll hear a brief but beautiful intro from FKA Twigs whose siren vocal lures us to an already iconic riff with all the trimmings of Tears For Fears with a twist of The Blue Nile.
The mad genius behind The 1975 lays deeper than their carefully curated rockstar aesthetic – it’s not the beat up leather jackets, wayward hair and wine-swigging on stage (though of course, it’s a powerful sell), but a fusion of lyrical dexterity and unapologetic, joyful melody. It’s what ’80s pop did so successfully; infectious, outrageously honest music to dance to with abandon.
Today, we have so many talented musicians steering the industry into innovative, unchartered waters, and quite rightly so, but often there’s a deliberate nonchalance. A painfully cool aversion to the bloody, beating heart of it all. I care, but I don’t want you to know I care, so I’m going to act like I don’t care in the hope that you’ll care about that. OK?
Frontman Matty Healy encapsulated his philoso-pop method in an interview with Pitchfork in January last year ;
“My whole career has been, like, presenting the apocalyptic sense of being a teenager in a major key. That’s, like, my whole thing.”
There’s a gory glory in our teenage years. We’re an entanglement of colourful wires each desperately seeking connection. Hormonally we’re white-hot, spitting sparks at parents, fraying like our botched, bleached home-dyes, short circuiting over unrequited loves and, let’s be honest, generally just trying to stick it in (in one form or another). There’s something about this bewildering stage of life, when you’re on the pulse of it all, that converts to electric songwriting.
Despite an incongruously static, black and white music video shot against a humble breeze block wall, Too Shy is sonically dazzling ; a stadium-ripe anthem washed in bisexual lighting (shout out to my fellow synesthetes) and the ultimate bedroom bop. Try singing this into your smartphone/hairbrush/vibra-I mean-TV remote and tell me it doesn’t feel right ;
She said maybe I would like you better if you took off your clothes /
I’m not playing with you baby /
I think that you should give it a go
So euphoric is the melody, you’d be forgiven for not fully processing the somewhat, erm, spicy lyrics (surely a hard relate for singles in lockdown):
I’ve been wearing nothing every time I call you /
And I’m starting to feel weird about it /
Sometimes it’s better if you think about it /
This time, I think I’m gonna drink through it
Whilst our front line superheroes do us proud, Mama Nature takes a breather and we adapt to the great indoors, who’d have thought a five minute cyber-sex anthem would be the serotonin shot we needed? People, we may be in it for the long haul, but it’s time for a quickie.
Pre-order The 1975’s Notes on a Conditional Form here.