As 1st June approaches, and the countdown ticks down, we try to work out exactly what The 1975 are up to on the road to 'Music For Cars'.
Unless you've had your head buried in a book - y'know, those things Matty Healy reads, with more words and less big pictures - you'll have noticed The 1975 are moving towards something big.
Obviously, we all expect that to be their third album, which we presume will be titled 'Music For Cars'. We're pretty confident we know when it might arrive, too, but the fun isn't only about the destination. It's about the journey too - and The 1975's journey is full of all kinds of sights and sounds.
After last night's (Tuesday 2nd May) mysterious drop
, here's everything we can work out from what the band are currently up to.
We'll be keeping this updated 'as things progress' - the last change was at 12:39 am on Thursday, 3rd May.
First things first...
A quick note to start with - a lot of this analysis was originally discovered / sleuthed / etc by the brilliant types at Coup de Main
. We'd recommend you give them a follow
, because bluntly, they're better at this internet detective stuff that we'll ever be. You can read their drill down here,
and we'd advise you do that before going any further. We'll wait for you here until you're done.
That late night / early morning tweet
that told us the band's website was back goes deeper than a simple social share image. If you look carefully, the central 'Hello' is printed on the reverse side of the leaflet you get with a brand new iPhone X, explaining how the Face ID works.
That ties into the 'First, disobey; then look at your phones' line from the band's recent teaser posters. Because if you look at your phones, it'll unlock what comes next. See! Smart.
When clicking through to the website, we're presented with a countdown. Listing days, hours, minutes and seconds, it's no surprise to anyone that it'll hit zero on 1st June.
For anyone still catching up, that's a date that's central to the band's identity. Named after a scribble in the back of a book, which read '1st June, The 1975', Matty Healy has shared the message on numerous occasions, especially in the run up to their third album. Given that, this year, 1st June is a Friday - the day new albums are released - it almost seems too perfect an opportunity for the band to pass up.
It's more than just a countdown though.
Behind the numbers is a looping video clip. Featuring images of technology, robots, that '1st June' Kanye tweet, and even snippets of Ed Sheeran and Drake, it suggests the band's third album will play with the ideas of accelerated culture and a tech obsessed society.
Cross reference that with the wording of Sunday's 'A Brief Inquirly Into Online Relationships', and it seems to marry up perfectly.
"Welcome welcome boys and girls into a more distracted world..."
The second, secret countdown
Smart types have noted that, on the band's website, there's actually two countdowns. If you know source code (and we do), you'll be able to see there's the target we've already talked about - basically running down to midnight on 31st May/1st June. That's when we're currently expecting 'Music For Cars', their third album, to arrive.
However, commented out - that means it's in the code, but doesn't do anything - is a second date. When converted from its techy timestamp, it points to 10:54:39 GMT on Sunday, 13th May.
Why? No idea. But it's there. If you want some possible explanation, @sugaroactedpill
on Twitter remains much smarter than we are.
Alongside the video, you'll hear an instrumental piece - the atmospheric plonk of the piano set against swelling, emotive, sometimes playful strings, playing right into the band's more instrumental side. Could it be a track from the record? Could it be the third part of the band's album opening 'The 1975' series of tracks - presumably we'll get another one of those to kick off the new full-length, right? We can't tell, but we'd not bet against it.
The rabbit hole
And so we go deeper. In the source code for the website, there's a link to a zip file
. Inside that zip file, are four images. Here's where we start getting intense.
The first, features an image of people looking at their phones, superimposed with a bible verse - Isaiah 6:19-10. Now, we're not super well versed on 'the good book', but a quick look about returns this as the relevant passage:
He said, "Go and tell this people:
"'Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed."
You don't need us to explain why that fits the general 'vibe' here, now do you, Dear Reader?
Fact: the painting behind the people in the image is 'The Night Watch', by Rembrandt van Rijn. On display in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, you can find more information on that here
The second features a stock image from Shutterstock
(HURRAH! - Ed) with the title 'Modernity has failed us'. Pretty self explainatory, it pictures a young child looking through a virtual reality headset. Rather than, y'know, into the real world. Because we're all fucked.
The third features a couple holding hands, with the message 'planned obsolescence'. Double meaning time - on one hand (lol, etc - Ed), this could be referring to the fact that real life relationships are becoming obsolete in the face of their digital counterparts, but it's also a term thrown around when tech companies plan for their products to become obsolete after a period of time
, necessitating a new purchase. Notably, it's something that's come up with Apple's iPhones in recent years, after it was discovered they deliberately slowed down older models.
We all know what this one is, right? A pixelated out version of Ellen DeGeneres' famous Oscar night selfie, it features the line 'Soon to be picturesque ruins'. Perhaps a comment on celebrity in the digital age? Answers on a postcard.
See, for most bands a sign up form is just about grabbing data for a mailing list. And let's be clear here, we're 99% sure that's what this is - but if you muck about enough you'll bring up a hidden whatsit where you can put in your details and send it off to the band. It again features that line 'First, disobey; then look at your phones'.
A few hours after all the above happened, the band made another new move. That previously mentioned zip file
, containing four images changed. While the images are basically the same (they've got a nice black border now), the filenames are 'interesting'.
One is 'the1975.jpg', one reads 'dotcom.jpg', another says 'forwardslash.jpg' with the final one reading 'conversation5.jpg'. Put them all together and you get a link.
And behind that URL, you get... a conversation.
The complete text reads:
CONVERSATION 5 - MORALITY
HUMAN: WHAT IS MORAL?
MACHINE: WHAT EMPOWERED HUMANITY, WHAT INTELLECTUAL THE ESSENCE IS.
HUMAN: WHAT IS IMMORAL?
MACHINE: THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE A CHILD.
HUMAN: WHAT IS MORALITY?
MACHINE: WHAT IS ALTRUISM?
HUMAN: WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF ALTRUISM?
MACHINE: IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD, THEN YOU DON’T KNOW.
HUMAN: OK... SO WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF MORALITY?
MACHINE: WELL, THE TRUTH IS, YOU’RE NOT A BELIEVER IN GOD ALMIGHTY.
HUMAN: TELL ME THE DEFINITION OF MORALITY, I AM QUITE UPSET NOW!
MACHINE: I’M NOT ASHAMED OF BEING A PHILOSOPHER!
HUMAN: TELL ME THE DEFINITION OF MORALITY.
MACHINE: I DON’T HAVE ETHICS .
HUMAN: LOOK, I NEED HELP, I NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT MORALITY...
MACHINE: I DON’T KNOW WHAT ETHICS IS.
HUMAN: SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS MORALITY?
MACHINE: WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF LIVING?
HUMAN: WHY LIVING HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH MORALITY?
MACHINE: YOU’RE NOT A COP .
HUMAN: OKAY, I NEED TO KNOW HOW SHOULD I BEHAVE MORALLY...
MACHINE: I DON’T KNOW HOW TO TELL YOU.
HUMAN: IS MORALITY AND ETHICS THE SAME?
MACHINE: YES, SIR.
HUMAN: WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT I DO TO BE IMMORAL?
MACHINE: I DON’T KNOW.
HUMAN: GIVE ME SOME EXAMPLES OF MORAL ACTIONS
MACHINE: I’M NOT A MORALIST.
HUMAN: ALRIGHT, MORALITY?
HUMAN: WHAT IS INTEGRITY?
MACHINE: I’M SORRY , I DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO SAY.
HUMAN: BE MORAL!
MACHINE: BE A MAN!
HUMAN: I REALLY LIKE OUR DISCUSSION ON MORALITY AND ETHICS...
MACHINE: AND HOW I’M NOT IN THE MOOD FOR A PHILOSOPHICAL DEBATE.
HUMAN: WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT?
As one fan points out
, the text sort of matches up with this
- a conversation Google researchers had with an advanced AI bot. As the link explains: "The research team were pleased its AI system was able to engage with humans in a meaningful way, praising its ability to “remember facts, understand contexts, perform common sense reasoning without the complexity in traditional pipelines”. They were less pleased, however, with it brevity, lamenting its "simple, short, sometimes unsatisfying answers to our questions as can be seen above.""
So what do they mean?
Well. Here's the million dollar question. It would be quite un-The 1975 to tell us our culture is trash, so they're almost certainly not telling us to bin our handsets and go play in the fields. Or, given they've used scripture in one of their images, go practice some organised religion. As one fan points out - the message reads 'First disobey, then look at your phones', perhaps suggesting we use the phones TO disobey. The tweets below make it in smarter terms than a simple indie pop magazine ever could.
The date, and the themes
As we speculated yesterday, the drop date of all this new info - 2nd May - seems to tie in to the 1968 Paris revolt. That's all part of a bigger movement - The Situationist International - which seems to hook up with what The 1975 are up to in several ways. If you want to go deeper into that, this is a great place to start.
And if you're still unsure if it's relevant or not - Matty Healy liked this tweet from its creator earlier this year, which - as you know - is as good as confirmation we're onto something here.
If you check out Wiki, you'll note the next date mentioned is 6th May - that's Sunday - when student unions spoke in support of the actions. Perhaps that's when the next move comes? Maybe? Who knows. Eyes peeled, crew.
Regardless of when, it looks likely that The 1975's next era will concentrate on the idea that art, technology and music can promote social change. That seems pretty 'them', right?
But what about the 'What A Shame' EP?
Well, then. MFC, 2018-2019? An era? A two part album? Splitting the last film into a double parter like an indie pop Harry Potter? A longer inquiry into online relationships? Your guess is as good as ours, but when The 1975 are involved, you can be sure it'll be big.
So what about catalogue numbers, then?
Okay, here's where we can have some clarity - maybe. Dirty Hit catalogue numbers have been 'a big deal' to fans since Matty Healy
and manager Jamie Oborne
added them to their Twitter biographies 'a while back'. And while that's interesting, the posters over recent days are possibly more so.
In case you're not aware, every release on a label is given a catalogue number. A unique string of letters and numbers, they'll usually run in a fixed pattern - a series of letters to represent the label's name, followed by a number which counts up from 1 for each release. It's usually chronological, but not always as a number may be assigned to a later release before one that actually ends up coming out sooner. Still with us?
So, DH00327, which is included on the 'Music For Cars' posters, is relating to a different release to 'DH00325', which is on the five images from the 'A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships' set.
As there are five 'items' in the latter grouping, we can be pretty sure the band and their label aren't taking a Factory Records attitude to their output
, assigning every piece of communication a unique number. That means we can probably conclude 'Music For Cars' and 'A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships' may be the names of two separate 'things' - most likely linked releases which had their identifying numbers assigned around the same time.
That opens up two theories. One is that 'A Brief Inquiry'... is an EP. Born mostly of the fact that Matty promised us a new collection before 'Music For Cars' arrived
, and the four separate images in yesterday's zip file, it's easy to see why that would work.
Alternatively, that first 'A Brief Inquiry...' poster read a lot like lyrics to a song. Perhaps lyrics to a lead single that's actually titled 'A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships'?
But, with that in mind - what's DH00326?
All of this is total guess work, but seems worth keeping an eye on until we know more - something which may tie into that second countdown mentioned above, maybe?