Each of the singles released so far from Matty Healy and co.’s upcoming album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ bears a sense of Devil-may-care abandon.
The Greta Thunberg-assisted ‘The 1975’ implores rebellious action – “Everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience,” the teenage activist implores – while the hardcore-inspired ‘People’ sees the band at their most furious. ‘Me And You Together Song’ is a heartfelt throwback to simpler times, mirroring their formative years as Drive Like I Do, while the melancholy ‘The Birthday Party’ – released in February – provides a twinkling, dreamlike escape from the everyday.
‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’, the band’s latest release, featuring emo heart-breaker Phoebe Bridgers, is yet another change of pace from a gang who cherish the unexpected. Stripped down to mostly vocals and acoustic guitar, this track is the simplest song The 1975 have put their name to since Nana’ (from 2016 album ‘I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It’) but that just allows its haunting beauty to shine.
Leaning into Matty’s desire to create something like Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’, it’s stark and personal, made for the comforting embrace of headphones. They’ve played it at live sessions previously and, for a band who embrace being fluid, it’s a testament to the power of ‘Jesus Christ 2005…’ that it hasn’t been tinkered with too much. Its sparseness allows the weighty lyrics room to fully flex.
Balancing at the point of heartbreak, the track sees Matty pondering faith, love and belief. “I’m in love with Jesus Christ,” he sings. “I’m in love with a boy I know but that’s a feeling I can never show.” It’s a world away from the buoyant skip of ‘Me And You Together Song lines, “It’s OK – lots of people think I’m gay but we’re friends, so it’s cool / Why would it not be?”, and packs a gut-wrenching punch.
The always-excellent Phoebe Bridgers really elevates the track, though, adding a new point of view. The 1975 have always wanted to soundtracks moments in peoples’ lives and typically that comes in the form of a sense of celebration, but ‘Jesus Christ 2005’ sees them flirt with defeat. It’s fragile and vulnerable. “I’m just a footprint in the snow,” Matty acknowledges. But Bridgers’ lines “I’m in love with the girl next door/her name is Claire / Nice when she comes round to call / And masturbate the second she’s not there” remind us he’s not the only one with a story to tell.
Seven years since their debut, the 1975 are still reaching new heights – and ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’ is their most heartfelt, emotional turn yet.