If there’s only one golden rule to The 1975’s creative process, it’s that there aren’t any. Over their last two albums, we’ve learned that for every right turn, there’ll always be an equal, if not greater number of hard swerves to the left. It only makes sense that, after a period of hinting at a return to their earliest roots, they’d instead introduce their fifth album with a thrust towards new horizons.
While ‘Part of the Band’, stylistically, may sit somewhere close to the more lo-fi moments on their divisive yet typically brilliant previous record ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’, it’s also stop-in-your-tracks different. Opening with string stabs that feel both warm and darkly anxious at the same time, this is The 1975 at their most organic.
A song without a chorus that, even in its loosest moments, never feels to lose immediacy, it could only ever be served up by one band. At the same time, it’s almost impishly different too. Lyrically, it’s a winding, fast-running train of thoughts, memories and ideas – at times self-referential (a line about coffee recalls a long-standing Matty Healy meme), at others deliberately out to challenge. There are hints of previous collaborator Phoebe Bridgers, a world of 00s US college radio indie, and perhaps even the more accessible end of Black Country, New Road’s wild, organic jazz soundscapes. As a comeback track, it’s either brave or stupid – perhaps both, certainly never neither.
With no crowd-pleasing neon haze, leather jackets and 80s riffs, it’s bait to anyone who hoped for a base-level regression – but nothing about ‘Part of the Band’ feels like it cements a mould for October’s forthcoming album ‘Being Funny in a Foreign Language’. If anything, it only further quashes preconceptions. A band able to headline the biggest arenas while being this creatively dissonant remains almost unprecedented. With genre confined to the scrap heap and poptimism fully absorbed into the creative consciousness, the lack of defined expectation is what makes The 1975 one of the most exciting bands on the planet. To force them back into any tightly defined box would be artistic and cultural vandalism of the highest order. Embrace the process; there are no rules.