‘Sincerity Is Scary’. That’s the statement that’s front and centre on The 1975’s new track - the latest stylistic curveball on the way to the release of their super-anticipated new album ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’.
For an act that often transmits ideas through turns of phrase, open-ended statements and character play, the suggestion on the box seems to be that this is a more confessional 1975 - open wounds, raw emotion. Taken on face value, there’s certainly plenty of both on offer. Lyrically, it’s content that sits at 180-degree angles to the instrumentation around it.
Thankfully, when shone through morning light and a breezy freeform chorus, the content takes a less worrying line than it might on paper alone - a more personal plea, though admittedly one delivered in part via gospel choir. The vitriol of words reduced by the warmth around it, it’s a song almost deliberately confused by definition - an intentional stylistic mish-mash of mixed-emotion and intent laid bare.
Away from the sonic semantics, perhaps the most interesting narrative of the band’s 2018 offerings continues to hold firm. ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ is not the kind of track you get from a bunch of throwaway stadium rockers - much less the one they send out to preview the biggest album of their careers to date. When Matty Healy threw up the suggestion that nobody else of their level was doing anything as interesting as The 1975, some of his peers bristled. The caricature those nay-sayers picture was left behind a with their self-titled debut, but so far every track has pulled away from even widened expectations - from the Scrappy Doo energy of ‘Give Yourself A Try’ to the socio-political mirror of ‘Love It If We Made It’ and the chart-pop triumph of ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’, each one has refused to lay down the expected direct follow up to ‘I like it when you sleep…’ and its biggest bangers.
Indeed, ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ may find its biggest challenge from what it isn’t, so much as what it might be. Bands of a certain scale are supposed to hammer down on what they do best - the radio smash that links records, the repetition on a theme. To date, there’s no evidence that The 1975’s third full-length contains anything that fits that design. When casual fans want ‘The Sound part 2’, offering them up some woodwind and a side order of honey-coated spite is either brave, naive or remarkably smart. It might even be all three. Either way, that ‘Brief Inquiry’ looks like it’ll cover far more than we initially suspected.