We’re all familiar with Matty Healy’s lyrical style by now, whether you’re a 1975 fan or not – self-referential, laden with irony, packed with moments that either send you running to a dictionary or losing the battle to hold in a big belly laugh. It’s an approach that has coloured The 1975’s entire work to date and part of what people love about them so much. Being able to find the references that tie everything together or working out the frontman’s sardonic jokes are like satisfying little puzzles that leave you feeling that maybe, just maybe, you too could be that smart.
That, essentially, is the whole premise of ‘Sincerity Is Scary’, the latest track taken from the band’s upcoming third album, ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’. It’s Matty letting his guard down and dismantling his ironic defences in front of us. “Irony is okay, I suppose,” he begins, a shrug before detaching himself from the process he’s grown so comfortable in.
The change isn’t some ripping-off-the-plaster instantaneous switch. First, as you’d probably expect, he has to explore just how his writing techniques are limiting him. “You try and mask your pain in the most postmodern way,” he explains. “You lack substance when you say something like, ‘Oh what a shame’/It’s just a self-referential way that stop you having to be human.“
Old habits die hard, it seems. Even as he’s singing about the cons to his whole schtick, he can’t help but continue doing it. The phrase “What a shame” is one that popped up several times on The 1975’s last album, ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It‘, and was seen scrawled across the singer’s stomach in crude black ink during live shows and festival appearances following its release. But once Matty has that out of his system, he’s ready to be real and dives straight into lyrics about heroin (“I’m assuming you’ll balloon when you remove the dirty spoon and start consuming like a human, that’s what I am assuming“) and relationships (“Why can’t we be friends when we are lovers?“).
Played out over smooth layers of brass and piano, and dragging beats, the focus is laid fully on his words, his feelings. There’s something stark but warm about it, seemingly mirroring the act of starting to lay yourself bare in front of trusted confidantes – in this case, The 1975’s loyal and supportive fanbase. And while sincerity might be scary, Matty’s attempts at it are still as beautiful and thought-provoking as his lyrics at the other end of the spectrum. This time, he just feels a lot more human.