A 38-year-old name, a personality built around black-and-white and a rising fan-base, means only one thing: one hell of a sound.
Chocolate is available at:
A lack of authoritarianism, and a rampant drive of electioneering…
is as important as anything, in the current climate, with regards to gaining and keeping a foothold. It is obvious that a great swarm of acts and bands are coming onto the market by the week. If you’re lucky, you may get a bit of press attention. There may be an obligatory short biography; contained within will be some feint praise, and an annoying tendency for the associated writer to compare the act or artists to someone or other. Every piece seems to begin: “Meet the new…”. It is the lack of imagination within the media, as well as an apparent lack of originality within music, that has sunk many a ship, and condemned a fledgling act to a premature- and often painful- death. Social media is as important as anything these days. The influence and power that it has, is utilised by new music, and is responsible for getting an act’s music to unusual places; gaining them new legions of fans, as well as inspiring other bands as well. Of course, one can not solely rely upon these facets, nor can they have an overconfident naivety, and assume that everything will work out for them. Too few new acts have done the bare-minimum with regards to promotion, on-line coverage, and getting their sounds perfected, differentiated, and spread to the public. Sticking too closely to a particular promotional format and mould, and being too restricted and predictable, can also cause early entropy. If a new act not only wants to survive, but to be heralded as a modern great, then it is as important to have a sound that is fresh, all-encompassing, and stunning. I have focused long on twin pillars: location and originality. With regards to the former, most of my concentrating has been aimed towards the north of England, as well as Scotland. The latter tends to have greater range, and a bit more fascination, but the former has growing numbers and consistency. Bradford, Leeds and the general Yorkshire area is proffering a great deal of variable talent: swing, blues rock and ’60s Nancy Sinatra-esque pop mingles alongside indie flavours. It is farther west that something more distilled is to be found. Whereas the Yorkshire contemporaries portray greater range, over in Manchester there is a focus primarily on indie bands as well as rock and hard rock groups. I have stated unequivocal that these area are producing the ripest crop of current talent. Long have I wiped my brow when trying to formulate scientific conclusions why this is so, but there seems to be a busier local scene here, as well as being a greater number of stronger acts. As much as I have been in awe of the passion and protestations from the musical fellows, I have been as dismayed by some rather worrying trends. More often than not, originality is a big issue. In the past few weeks a great deal of groups I have focused upon have been aping Arctic Monkeys. I understand the desire to try and emulate a group that is popular and (relatively) local: but why bother compromising your identity to achieve this? We already have Arctic Monkeys and no matter how close you mimic or how hard you try you are not going to be as good; either musically and certainly not lyrically. Alex Turner’s voice is also ripped off, and you get the sense that as well as there being a lot of movement in the north, there is not a great deal of imagination…
The 1975, however, are a band that have defied this, and have done everything right. The guys met over 10 years ago now, but through a shared affection as well as a combined passion for music, the band was formed and cemented, 1975 itself was a year that saw some of the best songs from the likes of The Eagles, Wings and Alice Cooper. The group consist of Matt Healy, George Daniel, Adam Hann and Ross MacDonald. The band themselves are not beholding to simply tributing an existing act, nor sticking unyielding to one genre: they mix punk energy, with Motown, northern European dreaminess and big pop hooks. Innovation as well as cross pollination is as essential as anything, if one wants to create songs that are memorable as well as innovative. In spite of having only released their debut E.P. a year ago, the four-piece have been restless: promoting and touring extensively, and summoning a prodigious and consistent workload. Many new bands neglect the power and necessity of on-line representation. I have come across too many acts that maybe have a basic and skeleton Facebook page; and maybe something on Twitter too. More often than not, these pages and spaces are neither memorable, nor especially informative. The 1975 are a band that appreciate the value of spreading the good word as far and wide as possible, and their social media representation, as well as wider appeal, is awash with black-and-white classical edges. There are few colour photos or colours in general to be found: their appeal and aesthete is representative of their band name’s heritage and implication. Small things impress me: they have lyrics on their official site, even though the words are not differentiated, making it hard to get too much out of it. Too many bands do not publish their lyrics, and combined with vocal performances which are often unintelligible and indecipherable, it makes for a frustrating experience. Of course it not just because of their impressive on-line portfolio that the band have amassed an army of impassioned fans. The music itself, in terms of its original ambition and qualitative regard is what gives The 1975 their stellar reputation. As well as their pioneering nature with regards to mixing genres, it is also the clear affection the guys share, and the passion they have for music. Last year they released their debut E.P. Facedown., and gained a lot of positive radio play, with crowds and the uninitiated latching onto their unique blitz and energy in the live arena. The E.P.s Sex and Music and Cars followed, and gained attention from the likes of Zane Lowe. Following on from this IV ensued, and pulled in new fans, all hungry to hear what the band will come up with in 2013. The debut, and self-titled album is all-but-completed, and will be unleashed in the Autumn. It is axiomatic to say that the album will be met with a firestorm of intrigue and demand, and will project a mix of their trademark sounds, as well as some new avenues and sensations. It may be the E.P. IV that is gaining the current share of attention, but Chocolate is one of their most-celebrated tracks, and derives from the release Music for Cars.
It is the pulsating and almost-electronic percussive thud; combined with a pupated building energy that lights the fuse for Chocolate. Once one siphons through the myriad of trolls and pointless vitriol on the YouTube comments section, and focuses on the video, it adds weight to the track. Reliable hues of black and white, stylised and filmic beauty, alongside foreboding nightscapes, represents the song’s authority perfectly. Past the 0:10 mark, the percussive smack mutates with electric guitar sparks. The rhythm kicks and dances in a bonhomie disregard; it is a mixture of modern-day vitality-cum ’60s and ’70s charm that gives the song its initial intrigue. The intro. itself settles upon a pattern and format and holds itself true: it draws you in and is as exciting as it is relaxing. When the vocal arrives, the tone is invigorated and raw-edged. There’s a little of Kings of Leon’s U.S. drawl, mingling with Mancunian accent, that is apparent. Any fear of hearing something overly-familiar or overly-replicated is expunged immediately, to be replaced by something that is as imbued with originality, as it is with vitality. The voice has youthful passion, but has married in influence from the band’s idols, as well as tones from the modern scene. Chocolate’s words deal with ambiguity of love and cessation of a parabond: “Call it a split/Because I know that you will”. When the words are delivered, there is some unique delivery: lines are tripped out, skip and trip, making the meaning more pointed and evocative. Scenes of city life and associative danger are spoken: “We got guns hidden under our petticoats”. It is with energy and firm evocation that the band support the front-man. The bass and guitar bubble and create waves; the drum work is solid and galvanize’s the track’s spine: together the effect is one of youthful vigour and sensationalism. In the way that The 1975 are influenced by the likes of Motown, The ’60s legends, as well as The Rolling Stones, this is apparent in the way the music is projected. Delivery is given special consideration. Lesser groups would choose force over construction, produce something more anodyne and monotonous. The 1975 blend the hallmarks of different genres when projecting, and means that their words and themes are made more memorable and exciting. The boys tell of vignettes and scenes where “We’re never gonna quit/If you don’t stop smoking it”. It is the mandate of not giving in and resilience that is repeated to great effect: the words are said more convincingly than any other in the track. If the guys can differentiate the lyrics on their official page it would have made it easier to deduce this; but is something I hope will be rectified in the lead-up to their album release. It is the re-enforced themes of petticoats, chocolate scents and lawlessness that gives Chocolate an almost romantic and bygone-era charm. It is the sound and sights of a wild north-west: hero and heroine embroiled in the unpredictability and danger of the night. Of course there is a pure heart and tenderness underneath anything, with our protagonist (in the song’s video) alternately looking forlorn and thought-provoked: he projects the air of a punk idol, shrouded in mystery and cigarette smoke. Familiarity and key themes are at the pinnacle of the order of magnitude. Phrases and words are repeated and enunciated to elicit maximum fortitude; the composition is perpetual and unwavering, and the vocal is impressively sprightly and captivating throughout. Chocolate is a track that does not outstay its welcome, nor waste breath or words. You can tell a great deal of thought and detail has been considered with regards to the song. The lyrics are evocative, yet intriguing in their intentions and meaning: “We’re dressed in black/Head to toe”, for example: a sentiment that can have numerous meanings and implications. There are no needless solos or gaps, with the band given the task of remaining focused and tight throughout.
As a whole, the track is simultaneously a perfect representation of the band’s codas, as well as an example of how simple and effective storytelling can draw you in. I have traversed the shores of The 1975, and explored their history quite immersed. Whilst their tracks are varied and differing, the boys have a keen ear for melody and punch. Underneath Chocolate’s layers is a punk edge and authority, even if at the core something warmer lies. I was impressed by the group’s tight performance and ability. The composition is well structured and exciting. Tones and reminiscences of the U.S. as well as northern England fuse together. Special kudos goes to our protagonist, whose voice is something quite striking. I am particularly struck by vocal prowess and effect, and there are no signs of any other artist inherent in his D.N.A. There is definitely a leaning towards modern energy and sounds, but little slices of older and wiser artists can be detected too. The way that the words are delivered is impressive too: movement, vitality and richness are chapter headings. Being slightly late to the party, I have had to do a lot of retrospective investigation and catching-up. Their forthcoming album will be interesting to hear, and will be exciting to see what direction the band take. Based on the strength and consistency of the work contained within their E.P.s I am certain that they will retain their solid and reputable sound, but coalesce a multitude of genres and diversions. The modern music scene is as susceptible to dry rot as it is to a lack of differentiation. The 1975 are a breeze of fresh air in that respect. Displaying a talent and keen edge for ambitious sounds and striking songs, they break away from the parable of “mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery”. With their ready-made festival sound and merit, 2013 and the next few years will afford them many opportunities and possibilities. With over 71,000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook; 40,000+ Twitter followers and a multitude of fans that grows by the day, they are not going to be seeking too much approval or thumbs-up from me. That said, if the band can sort out the niggling issue of their lyrics page, then they will win over many new fans. Being quite enamoured of lyrics and words as I am, the band have a lot of great lyrics and memorable lines. Making them more visible and less cryptic will make it easier to quote them. Although, that said the annunciation and projection is always pretty clear, so it not a huge issue. My main and central thesis with regards to originality and location is prescient and relevant. Here is a Manchester band that can reappropriate some credibility with regards to originality, as well as highlighting the merits and profitability of having a fresh sound. This, combined with an expansive and thorough on-line coverage, has meant they have graduated from the bustling and dangerous underground, and seen some daylight, that will help them grow in the future. Above all it is the ambition and hard work of the guys that will see them firmly in the creative, financial and historical black. With a predictably British Spring in force, where seasons come and go illogically, grab a hold of some consistent sunshine…
AND brightern the day.