Love them or hate them, they're still an obsession
There’s a wave of indie-pop that, if you listen hard enough, you can hear in the air as lovingly-curated ‘BBQ VIBEZ 2K18’ playlists are given their first outings, floating from garden-to-garden on a cloud of sausage scented smoke. And it’s headed up, whether your dad likes it or not, by fingers-in-a-socket-haired pop icon Matty Healy – frontman of The 1975.
Like them or loathe them, the influence that The 1975 have had on modern indie is undeniable. Everywhere you turn your ear, there’s a deftly plucked, palm-muted guitar line, hop, skip and jumping its way across shimmering pop synth work and third-wave emo lyricism. It’s an epidemic of neon excess and pared-back pop melody, and it’s shaping the incoming summer.
Below, we’ve picked out a bunch of the best new Healywave acts to get excited about – groups that’d fall at the feet of our Almighty Leader Matty, and are taking his modernised 80’s pop handbook as gospel.
Note: To angry middle-aged man in the Facebook comments. This isn’t entirely serious.
UPDATE: Matty Healy himself has waded in on Twitter, declaring he prefers the term ‘Mattycore’. Feel free to replace as you see fit.
But of course. One-time protégés of Holy Healy himself, Pale Waves‘ early singles were produced by the frontman and his 1975 bandmate, drummer George Daniel. Healywave in its most distilled form, the likes of ‘There’s A Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’ are packed full of The 1975’s pop nous – chirruping guitar lines, keyboards that sound lifted out of Vice City, and a yearning vocal courtesy of equally curly-haired frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie.
Signed to the same label as ’75 themselves, Dirty Hit Records, early shows saw Pale Waves pop up alongside The 1975 at inconspicuous, intimate watering holes such as, er, Madison Square Garden – a venue they admitted “is iconic” in a recent NME interview. “To just be in it – never mind play it – that is just heavy. Especially as we had only one song out. But we can’t take credit because it was our friends who took us on tour.” Friends. Just pals. Just your regular, everyday, arena-filling acquaintances.
Oh, and they’re from Manchester as well, by the way. Maybe there’s something in the water.
Utah’s The Aces released their debut album earlier this month, and it’s a cornerstone of the new age of Healywave. Guitars so shimmery their strings could be made of neon, 808 claps and condensed percussion – the likes of early single ‘Physical’ and every single cut on ‘When My Heart Felt Volcanic’ are fully-ticked checklists of post-75 pop perfection.
Speaking to NME earlier in the year, The Aces listed The 1975 as bucket list tour buddies – “judging by their debut, it’s only a matter of years until they’ll be playing massive headline slots alongside them,” we noted in our subsequent review of that first album. Look, we’re the Mystic Megs of the music press. It’ll happen. Believe.
Home Counties quartet Blushes caught our ear last year via NME Emerging, our platform for new bands to get their music heard. Immediately, their Healy-esque sheen was apparent, with sepia-filtered indie banger ‘To The Bone’ an early standout single.
It’s latest release ‘Honey’ that packs the sugar-sweet sensibility, though. Those chirpy guitar lines are still present and correct, and the band’s sleekness screams ‘I like it when you sleep…’, but it’s in sardonic frontman Bradley Ayres that they really nail Healy’s lackadaisical lyricism, as everyday occurrences and banal things like buttered popcorn become poetic devices.
Neither of this Arkansas duo are called Joan (bit of an out-there choice of band name, but I guess the barrel is starting to run dry, in fairness), their sleek, sax-packed pop aches just like the most heartbroken moments of The 1975’s second LP.
Recent single ‘I Loved You First’ could be the spiritual successor to ‘Somebody Else”s sob-worthy synthing, while the more exuberant ‘Love Somebody Like You’ is all squiggly, choppy guitars and breathy delivery. So very Matthew. It’s evidence that The 1975’s tarting up of ’80s pop excess and earnestness is reaping dividends – Healywave is here to stay. Sorry, Grandad.
i loved you first, a song by joan on Spotify
If you still crave the syncopated guitar riffs and synth bass of songs like ‘Girls’, then look no further than Fickle Friends. Both the bands’ debut albums were produced by the same person (Mike Crossey), but this Brighton band veer towards more feel good anthems. Their debut album ‘You Are Someone Else’ made a big impression earlier this year, landing in the Top 10.
If you’re a fan of The 1975 then you probably know already all about No Rome. Signed to ‘Dirty Hit’, the solo act’s debut EP ‘RIP Indo Hisashi’ includes Matty singing on ‘Narcissist’.
Speaking to Zane Lowe earlier this year Healy spoke about how the collaboration came about. “It’s so exciting to be working with him. I just fell in love with it completely. I’d never seen him, I didn’t know who he was or anything. I flew him over to the UK because I was just too excited, and, when I get that excited, then I know that I’ve got to do it. We moved it over and signed him to Dirty Hit, and the rest was history.”
Petrie’s ‘June’ echoes the same jazzy vibes as as The 1975’s ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ with J Dilla style drums and brooding bass lines featuring on both. The two singers are pretty similar lyrically too, “cheap drinks in this bar since it’s two for one pouring up Amarula book us an Uber quick” sounds like a line straight out of Healy’s songwriting book.
Additional words: George McMillan