Like just about everything they do, from stadium shows that look like art installations to clever ways of connecting with fans, the build up to the release of The 1975’s frothily anticipated third album has been pure class. There have been typographic press releases and posters, impressionistic vertical videos and, crucially, a drip feed of songs that tells you almost nothing about what the album in full is going to be like. Like a good film trailer, these tracks showcase tiny plot points but avoid spoilers entirely.
So we heard ‘Give Yourself A Try’, which was a fun and fairly throwaway pop song with a Strokes-like guitar riff. So this is their guitar album? No, because the next one was ‘Love It If We Made It’, which tapped into a familiar influence – the po-faced ‘80s pomp of Tears For Fears and their ilk – and constructed a towering, multi-storey pop track with screeds of lyrics. So this is going to be their big album, turning everything about them up to 11?
Well, no, because ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’, brand new today, is another U-turn, playing with pop tropes from the late ‘90s to now: the filtered disco of ‘French touch’ (think: Stardust, ‘Music Sounds Better With You’), the persistent key-bashing of piano house, the robotic vocal shifts of Cher’s ‘Believe’, the bouncy, the toytown feel of PC Music, the happy repetition of Europop (the office thinks it sounds like Ann Lee’s ‘Two Times’ – coincidence?) and the unfurling electronic flourishes of tropical house.
Where the last track provided lyrics to pick over for days, referencing Trump, Lil Peep among many other things,’TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ is a bit more simple, but typically clever, a one-sided conversation, or argument, from one person in a relationship minus the comebacks of the other; “I think we need to rewind/you text that boy sometimes!/Must be more than three times/I didn’t mean to too time you,” it goes.
It’s a lyric that’s fitting with the album’s title, ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’, and one that’s typical Matty Healy: knowing, insecure, romantic, flawed, and cocky at the same time. “You pick a fight/And I’ll define it,” he sings.
And here’s more confusion: the big, green, graphic poster/press release for the track says it’s the second single, meaning one of the three tracks we’ve heard isn’t one.
TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME, a song by The 1975 on Spotify
Despite recent difficulties, Matty and co are clearly in a creative purple patch. Early reports have said the album has songs that range from house to blue-eyed soul, art-rock and the Great American Songbook, and even a song narrated by Apple AI programme Siri. This track isn’t meant to be the key to unlock the album – we’re going to have to wait a while longer for the full thing. But we can play this to death in the meantime.