About The 1975
The 1975 had already released a platinum-selling album—their 2013 self-titled debut—before they learned to trust their own instincts. “It’s hard to have that confidence when you’re young,” frontman Matty Healy told Apple Music. “A lot of people’s early music has a lot to do with: ‘Is this cool enough to show my mates?’ That can kill bands if they never leave The Hawley Arms”—the Camden pub/epicentre of British indie music in the 2000s. So when they began to make their second album, 2016’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, the four-piece resolved to ignore outside expectation. As Healy recalls, it was time to “do exactly what we want”. It was a smart move.
Formed at school in Wilmslow, south of Manchester, in 2002, the group spent the second half of the 2010s becoming one of Britain’s biggest bands by continuously reinventing its sound. They’d begun by cloaking ’80s pop drama in the gauzy atmospherics of shoegaze on 2012’s Facedown EP, but were assimilating folk, UK garage, emo, techno, classical and spoken-word features from Greta Thunberg by the time their 22-track fourth album Notes on a Conditional Form arrived in 2020. At the centre of their sonic mazes, Healy, the son of TV actors Denise Welch and Tim Healy, addresses personal dramas and hot-button cultural themes with honesty and wit. If opening up about addiction and recovery ever threaten to shroud him in rock ’n’ roll folklore, songs such as “The Birthday Party”—partly about being too embarrassed to defecate if someone’s in the next room—deflate the myth-making.
Sprawling, restless and striding snake-hipped along the line between invention and self-indulgence, their records often resemble great playlists rather than traditional albums. “We create in the way that we consume—with that same kind of pan-excitement,” said Healy. “There’s no rules when it comes to streaming. It doesn’t say, ‘Don’t listen to Headie One after Carole King.’ It’s almost like we don’t have those rules as well. There’s a lot of abrupt scene changes—but that’s what life’s like.”