Three years after releasing their self-titled album, The 1975 came back stronger than ever with their album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. In preparation for their sophomore album, the 1975 scared fans by disabling all of their social media.
Fans worried about the 1975’s impending break up until Matt Healy, the lead singer, posted a cryptic announcement. The lead singer, posted a comic that depicted a black figure behind a pink figure, labeled “Old Matty” and “New Matty”. Next to this image was a blurry letter, seemingly addressed to fans that read, “Our projected identity must change not only visually but philosophically – how do you do that? Firstly we must reclaim our identity & repossess our control of it…Until then there won’t be any pop music or dancing with long hair.” The band ended this confession saying, “We can’t simply go on forever- always staying the same, never evolving. So we must leave, with a parting ‘we love you’ – we are already gone.” This note sent fans into a frenzy. What was happening? Who was the “New Matty”?
All of these questions seemed to be answered when all the band’s social media accounts reappeared posting the same pastel pink picture. Fans soon learned that The 1975 were not gone, just pink. The band had been famous previously for their grungy black and white aesthetic, so their adoption of all things bubblegum pink was a drastic change. At first one might think that a change in appearance for a band isn’t much of a change at all. Matt Healy stated in an interview with MTV, “I think we found a bit of solace in keeping everything black and white, because it keeps things quite detached from reality and kind of puts a boundary between us and what’s actually happening.” The bands change in color scheme was not simply them rebranding but they were reinventing themselves, most not only in their aesthetics but in their music.
The 1975’s signature sound is maintained in their sophomore album. However, there is an entirely different mood. Their self-titled debut album is a collection of alternative rock songs that immerse the listeners in the struggles of the lead singer. In contrast, i like it when you sleep is filled with harsh social criticisms and observations surrounding the topics of individuality, sexuality, religion, mental health, family, and love.
The most interesting part of the 1975’s sophomore album, especially for long time fans, is the parallels in lyrics from the first and second album. The second album is filled to the brim with extensions lyrically as well as criticisms at the band’s earlier naivety. There are a few specific songs that connect the first and second album. The chorus of their hit song “The City” exclaims, “If you wanna find love then you know where the city is”. The 1975 rebuts this statement in a moment of regret and disappointment with their song “A Change of Heart” saying, “I feel as though I was deceived, I never found love in the city.” Again in one of the band’s most famous songs, Robbers, Matty describes a girl saying, “She had a face straight outta magazine.”
Once again, in “A Change of Heart”, Matty sings, “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine, now you just look like anyone.” As implied by the title, “Change of Heart” describes much of the evolution of the band’s opinions and how they have changed in the three years before releasing their second album. Matt Healy is without a doubt pretentious, but he gets a way with it because of his lyrics. While he is keen to criticize society and those around him, he is hardest on himself by incorporating witty self-awareness and self-deprecation. Matty described this tendency to criticism himself saying, “One of the things that I want people to be aware of is that if I’m talking with a kind of sense of dissatisfaction about behavior I’m normally talking about me.”
The song “She Way Out”, in their first album has the lyrics, “She said it’s not about your body, it’s just social implications are brought upon by this party that we’re sitting in. And I’d like to say you’ve changed but you’re always the same.” Matt Healy is criticizing social structure with his lyrics. The female character in his song is insisting that there is nothing wrong with Matty and they can attribute all faults in character to flaws in society. However, in his song “The Sound”, he retaliates by singing, “It’s not about reciprocation, it’s just all about me. A sycophantic, prophetic, socratic, junkie wannabe.” Matty is without a doubt a genius lyricist who is able to criticize his own narcissism eloquently.
One song that encapsulates the genius that is Matt Healy is the song “If I believe you”. Matty has always been outspoken on his opinions on religion, once tweeting, “’Religious belief resolves no moral problem and yields no knowledge’. “If I believe you” is a cry to God that introduces a paradox that because of his lack of interest in God, he can’t seem to find a purpose. The song is a criticism that uses comedy to express his perspective with lines like, “I’ll be your child if you insist. I mean, if it was you that made my body you probably shouldn’t have made me atheist”.
Matt Healy prides himself on being self-aware, and claims he understands that things he says can come across as pretentious. He recognizes the criticism surrounding the aesthetics of the band, but he has strong beliefs surrounding his own art which is why the band has reached so much success. In an interview with Hit 30, Matty expressed his belief that, “The only art… worth investing in is art that makes you feel personally addressed…You either acquire that through a true belief in something or immersing yourself in a world that you believe. The continuity and the consistency between our music and the way we look, or our presence on the internet, all of our visuals, all of our album artwork. It’s so intertwined that it gives people this sense of identity. It feels like you’re buying into something that is more dynamic and more believable and more human than something that isn’t as thought out.” In another interview with MTV, Matt encapsulated the spirit of the band’s sophomore album saying, “It’s about making decisions. Making bold decisions.
The record is kind of comprised of that attitude. Conviction and truth…it’s a pursuit of the truth and the pursuit of excellence.” The success of the band can be attributed to their aesthetics, appearance, lyrics, instrumentals, stage performance and attitude. Matty is a genius, but above that, he is an entertainer. He recognizes flaws in himself and society and he pieces together to create beautiful lyrics and a brand that makes fans feel part of something bigger.