The 1975 come on like New Model Army but sound like Prefab Sprout, overlaid with Muse minus the histrionics. On paper this does not seem like a particularly edifying proposition but, confoundingly, it very much is for the simple reason that the tunes are great.
Lazy and snide comparisons with such '80s shockers as Duran, Simple Minds, Mr Mister and Cutting Crew don’t really hold up: The 1975 may be many things but AOR isn’t one of them. Equally, while generic Blue-Eyed Synth Soul is rightly deplored, there were in fact a handful of credible acts in this mode, e.g. Blue Nile, Scritti Politti and the aforementioned Prefabs. Those slightly artier leanings are, to my ears, far more discernible on this album, alongside other perfectly acceptable period influences such as Orange Juice, Talking Heads and Prince, with the latter’s groove-based method especially informing The 1975’s song writing style (you won’t find many profound chord changes on this record).
Lyrically The 1975 also set themselves slightly apart – while the indie staples of small town boredom, dissolution and yearning are all present and correct there is also a refreshing strand of young masculine gender politics, wryly conscious of the broken contract that is ‘have-it-all’ feminism. Without this final element there might be reasonable grounds for suspecting it’s all a bit too good to be true: a finely calibrated jumping-off point for the captive market of girls about to outgrow One Direction.
The 1975 is an accomplished and hugely enjoyable album containing at least six irresistibly catchy pop tunes, an eminently likeable vibe and an interesting new slant on what it means to be young and male in the second decade of the 21st century.