Every other mid-2010s manic pixie boys and girls were into The 1975 when they came out with their first batch of cigarette tunes as the likes of ‘Chocolate’, ‘Girls’, and ‘Robbers’ dominate curated playlists in streaming platforms. The hype train continues when the band brought fans to the second album with the ridiculously long name (I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It) that promoted the band into indie rock Godhood.
When Matt Healy announced Music For Cars (later changed to A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships), the general response was positive and most music fans were buzzing for it, especially in the same year that other Indie Rock darlings like Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines and Vampire Weekend decided to come back ‘fresh’, or so to say. Bizarrely, both highly-anticipated records from Arctic Monkeys and The Vaccines are strangely underwhelmed with Tranquility Base Hotel and Combat Sports respectively. Many fear the same thing with The 1975: the records aren’t terrible – they’re just not as memorable as their last few albums.
With no surprise, Matt Healy came out with a different persona for the music video of their first single for A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, ‘Give Yourself A Try’. The band traded their post-AM leather jackets with tight black suits while Healy, oh Healy, presented a combo of Boy George and David Bowie’s aesthetics, which is fine to be honest (except that Gerard Way followed the same approach a few years ago). The music video was decent, but the main problem for fans is that the intro of ‘Give Yourself A Try’ sounds awfully similar – it sounds like the intro of possibly Joy Division’s biggest hit, ‘Disorder’, and the worse part is, the riff lingers till the end.
And, here’s ‘Disorder’.
Joy Division played a huge role in the rise of UK post punk back in the day, that has somewhat shaped the modern indie scene you know today. To know that one of the biggest indie bands in the world decided to take a step back and pull a stunt like this reminds me of the time that ‘Ice Ice Baby’ took the infectious bassline of Queen and Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ for his own personal reasons, not to forget the Foo Fighters vs Dio and Cat Stevens vs The Flaming Lips cases.
Despite the flak that they’ve been getting, as a music fan, I feel like I may be able to look pass such plagiarism today. In the era where Motown is slowly coming back to life in simpler forms, originality is a scarce commodity. Every track is a formation of influences, remnants of energy and form surrounding the creator’s’ life. To have the creator’s tracks sound familiar to its influences are normal, so the possibility of Matt Healy, who grew up in the UK, writing a track similar to Ian Curtis, comes to no surprise as the latter is a British Icon. Like Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant once said, ‘Everything is a Remix’. Yes, this is the same Robert Plant who lost a court battle on plagiarism for his hit song ‘Stairway to Heaven’, and the one who felt a bit uncomfortable that Greta Van Fleet didn’t cite them as an influence.
In the case of The 1975, I’m psyched to see these promising signs of post punk in their music. Bands evolve, and they evolve not adjust to the times, but to help shape the times. Arctic Monkeys are slowly declining, The Vaccines may never have reached its potential, maybe if we give them a chance, they may be able to deliver. It’s still early to thumb down Healy and co but in due time, we’ll able to see whether the band can withstand the test of time, or crumble like the rest to make room for newer bands to shine.