The 1975 onstage at the end of 2016Lottie Reeder

December, 2016: Matty Healy stumbled on stage at the O2 with a rose in his mouth and a glass of wine in his hand. He tripped over his sentences, attempting to give words of wisdom, before surrendering, “Let’s just sing some songs,” and, perhaps the most ironic of all, “Fuck politics, let’s dance.” ‘A Change of Heart’ sounded like a flat can of coke. He tangled himself in microphone wires, before kissing the technician that came out to assist, crying a weak, “Help me.” In American popstar Halsey’s song ‘Colors’, outspokenly written about him, she condescendingly sings, “I hope you make it to the day you’re 28 years old.” I can’t deny I was worried. I insured my tickets.

Despite this, it was one of the best concerts I had ever been to in my life. The atmosphere was incomparable to anything else I’d seen. The lights were beautiful. It was otherworldly. The only thing that unsettled me was his state. Having loosely spoken about a ‘past tense’ cocaine addiction in interviews, illustrated in songs such as ‘UGH!’ And ‘Milk’, it didn’t seem so past tense. The crowd remained unphased by this behaviour, even cheering louder at his moments of instability.

I finally started to see them as they were, shaking off what had manifested itself as an unhealthy relationship with the band

My relationship with The 1975 has developed and fluctuated over six years, more so than any other band. In the earlier years, I hijacked the aux at house parties in the later hours, to play their mellow songs – ‘You’, ‘Me’, ‘Medicine’when people had stopped paying attention. Painfully cinematic, each song felt episodic as you sat through it. To me then, the music embodied emptiness, hollowness - a tragic epitome of teenage years. It haunts me now.

At 16, my shift in opinion coincidentally corresponded with the release of the singles from their second album, as well a shift in critical opinion. I had an enlightenment moment, when I spoke to Lucas Jones, (frontman of local band The Rose Affair) who pointed out that Healy knows his fan base, how they react and pick up on subtleties and references in the lyrics and videos – he can market a band. Although this took the shine off, I finally started to see them as they were, shaking off what had manifested itself as an unhealthy relationship with the band. I no longer turned to their music when I was down - they became real party songs, to dance and release to. I am so glad that I was able to see them live with this realisation, as I may have been disappointed otherwise. I see their albums as atmospheric, energetic indie/pop explorations, peppered with occasional downbeat sentimentalities.

The band gains so much from Matty Healy, but equally loses credibility as a band

By chance, reviews of the band took a 180. Having been cruelly awarded ‘Worst Band of the Year’ (which, I believe, is purely due to music critics’ irrational hatred for bands that have a large teen-female following) by NME, they received ‘Best Live Band’. Despite being one of the most controversial bands currently on the circuit, mostly due to their frontman’s antics, musically they are fantastic. Once the songs can be separated from the personality and the fan base, their talent shines through, and this can be said for all their work, not just the critically acclaimed I like it when you sleep.

This does not eradicate the fact that Matty Healy is outrageously problematic. He steals, but gets away with it by being friends with those he’s robbed, (take LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’ against ‘Sex’, they even have the same first line) despite preaching authenticity. Undoubtedly, he believes he has some answers to life’s unanswerable questions. I feel that the band gains so much from him, but equally loses credibility as a band; it’s not uncommon that listeners do not know the other members. This is unsurprising: he is the only one to talk during live shows, he does the interviews. A lot of the fans elevate him to a divine status, when I can’t help feeling they are brainwashed to try and find truth in a drug-induced bumble.


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I should refine this – pre-2018 Matty Healy. Now, at 29, he is out of rehab, supposedly off heroin, healthier looking and more articulate in the few interviews he’s done. It is difficult to judge the authenticity of his character: the extent to which his cocky front was drug-induced, or whether it is his personality. Now he is allegedly clean, the contrast should show. ‘Sincerity is Scary’, he writes, and up until this point, I do not think he has been sincere. From the five singles released, I get the distinct impression of a self-realisation; he has encompassed the clichés of a rock star and is reflecting on them, almost parodying himself. For the first time, I feel that The 1975 are no longer trying to do something monumental, and by doing that, they are.

When asked about the lyric content of ‘Give Yourself a Try’, Healy suggested that there is no point picking apart art sometimes, as the meaning will fluctuate. I found that to appreciate the music in its entirety, you have to stand back and treat it at surface level. I am looking forward to approaching the new era of the 1975 in this way, particularly seeing the new Matty Healy in action in January, again preaching to an arena.

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