The 1975 have made no bones about their past. Most artists tend to distance themselves from their early releases – whether excellent or embarrassment – in order to make sure their current era is their biggest and best.
The 1975 are not about that life. When teasing their new single ‘Me and You Together Song’ on Instagram, frontman Matty Healy embraced the fact that they’re heading back to the very start. Replying to a comment on the post he said ‘Me and You Together Song’ is like “a Drive Like I Do song (kind of) [sic]” and that their “current vibe is very DLID”.
Need filling in? Drive Like I Do was one of the band’s original names, before they settled on The 1975. In recent years Healy’s elaborated on the band’s beginnings, saying in a 2017 tweet, he said that “The 1975 and Drive Like I Do are separate entities” but hinting that the early days are basically an alter-ego. He’s even teased a separate album under that moniker.
There have been years of drastic reinventions since they ditched that name though, like the pop-overload on ‘I Like It When You Sleep…’ in 2016 and then dazzling experimentalism on 2018’s ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’. Each song as-yet-released from their upcoming fourth album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ is similarly dramatic and loaded with an obvious mission statement.
The reworked version of album-opener ‘The 1975’ featured a call-to-arms by teenage activist Greta Thunberg to stop fucking up the planet, while punk-rager ‘People’ continued the political sentiment, with bruising riffs that made Matty “feel more like I’m in a punk band than ever before.” ‘‘Frail State Of Mind’ was another flex of their production skills, paying homage to underground heroes like Burial and the short-lived ‘nightbus’ sub-genre; woozy post-dubstep to listen while dribbling on the last bus home, all but killed off by the arrival of Uber.
So what’s the statement behind ‘Me and You Together Song’, then? Little more than the concept of being young and in love, which fucking rules, but doesn’t necessary always work out. Whether it’s dreaming of an imaginary domestic life (“I had a dream where we had kids/You would cook and I’d do the nappies”) or the hesitant early steps (‘I said ‘can I take you for a drink?’/She said ‘oh god, I’ll have to think’”). A return to the band’s tenderest side seems most apt then.
Gone are the sardonic takes on celebrity culture or the information overload. Instead they’re back to being devastatingly sincere. There’s dreamy guitar riffs, falsetto vocals from Matty and if you listen closely, the sound of loads of flowers being sprinkled over the band in the studio.
It’s a spritely retreading of their early days, but does enough to avoid being naff. The witty songwriting and washed-out instrumentation from Drive Like I Do remain, but the added element of nostalgia makes for a more satisfying and well-rounded listen. It’s another winner.