Whatever your thoughts on The 1975 – musical saviours or sappy by-the-numbers scourges – there’s no denying that, on comeback track ‘Love Me’, they’re trying to give us something to think about. When the band unveiled the song, the first to be taken from ludicrously titled second album ‘I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’, they told BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac they wanted to be “ambassadors for this generation” and that they think “there’s a lot lacking in pop music these days”.
In case you missed the memo in the audio version of the song, the band have shared a new video that fully rams their points home. This isn’t just an excuse for Matty Healy to prance around with leather trousers and no shirt on, it’s a full-blown attack on vacuous pop culture, where everyone’s more self-aware than ever before and meticulously constructing personas that will gain them success, fame and notoriety.
This is The 1975 setting their stall out as the pop band to beat (interestingly, if you watch the video on Vevo it automatically rolls on to the video for ‘Girls’, which opens with them saying “We’re not a pop band”), and one with something to say behind the big hooks and catchy choruses. All those stars – Harry Styles, Rita Ora, Ed Sheeran and more – Matty’s hanging out with in cardboard cutout form here? They should consider this a direct challenge and slight piss take, rubbed in by the frontman landing a big, sloppy kiss on Styles.
A shot of Matty gesturing to his 2D clan is showing when he sings “I’m just with my friends online” shouldn’t be overlooked either. You could easily read it as a comment on social media’s role in this narcissistic society, where it’s not only the quantity of followers you have that’s important, but the quality, too. One of the keys of selfie culture is editing your life to show only the best bits; curating a stream of content that makes it look like you’re having a better time than everyone else. Drummer George Daniel mocks that here, holding his selfie stick aloft and pouting for the camera as he drums one-handed.
‘Love Me’ also sends up the excess of the rich and famous. Note the champagne Matty’s pouring out in various scenes, including one where he hands a glass to a cardboard Elvis, which inevitably ends up in a puddle on the floor. Then there’s the troupe of dancing girls, and the pink hot tub, filled at various points with the band and Matty with a leotard-clad girl.
Not all the digs are quite as in your face as others. In some shots, Matty’s chest is covered in stamps featuring a headshot of someone. It looks like a reference to this very iconic NME cover, where Richey Edwards’ torso is covered in ink versions of Marilyn Monroe. But what’s interesting here is that Matty’s motif looks like an old picture of himself. It’s hard to make it out exactly, but the resemblance to a photo like this is pretty damn close. Is there anything more narcissistic than stamping your own face all over your body?
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“We’ve just come to represent a decline in the standards of what we accept,” sings Matty at one point, before refuting it with the line “yeah? Yeah? Yeah… No.” This whole video is an embodiment of that line, of not just following the crowd because their formula’s been successful so far. It’s a call to arms to question how our society’s evolved into one that’s suffering from glued-to-the-screen tunnel vision. In an age where a hideous term like “personal brand” is bandied about without even the slightest wince or cringe, we need someone to burst our hyper-aware bubble. We never expected The 1975 to be that band, but it turns out they’re just the ticket.