Monday, December 12th, 2016

The 1975 – Somebody Else

In place of Amnesty Week, this year The Singles Jukebox will review every song off The 1975 album…


[Video][Website]
[7.75]

Josh Winters: I don’t even know where to start with this one. How could you possibly articulate about a song that struck a buried nerve, knocked you down on all fours, and engulfed you from the ground up? Well, a few things: For someone who, to me, embodies intoxicating lust and desire to lay their compulsions and contradictions bare feels glorious in its romanticized grandeur. “Somebody Else” continues in the great contemporary tradition of solitary soliloquies along midnight city landscapes, immortalized by one of Healy’s surrogate fathers. It recalls how I spent a good chunk of my early 20s: walking along empty boardwalks and towering skyscrapers late at night, listening to the ’80s favorites I’d lose myself to every single Thursday night on a dancefloor in the back of a dive bar. I still find parts of myself stuck in its glaring reflection some ten months after its release, but I find clarity in the immediate effect it had on me, one of immense rapture and internal conflict.
[10]

Claire Biddles: It was winter when I first heard it and it’s winter now. I leave a bar and although it’s still early it’s already dark. The cold hits my cheeks as the warm layers of synthesisers chime inevitably. I walk home alone. I feel comforted and powerful in my loneliness when I’m listening to it: The way it all leads to the shouts of “fuck that get money,” the final and definitive kiss-off to love. It’s every kind of comfort I need, like stocking up on food and drink and clothes and blankets and medicine when I’m sick. But the core comfort is the repeated “I know”: the way a familiar person appears in a dream. An invasion of my subconscious telling me that they understand. It’s also the comfort in familiarity, how it shows me to myself. In the space between the first and second “come on baby” lives the realisation that this person — the one you need and want but hate and want to forget — they don’t believe you, they’ve moved on, you’re never going to convince them. You think the change in your tone, taking a slightly different tactic — “come on baby” — you think it’ll work. But it’ll never work. You don’t even know what you want. I’ve heard that change in the tone of my own voice so many times this year. Convincing myself to the last. I’ve heard it in songs before too — in the “doing just fine” of “Mr Brightside,” the song that held my jealousy and inadequacy before “Somebody Else” did. The girl taking off her dress becomes the girl looking through her phone. It’s an old story. The song ends with the same synthesised motif that started it, the same empathetic voice, the same repeated “I know” — at first you think it’s coming back but then the whole thing falls away underneath you, and it’s gone. You reach for your house keys and push the door open. The lights are off. You’re still alone.
[10]

Brad Shoup: The places where our bodies were, I still feel them. It’s like I’m navigating by heatmap: there’s that apartment, these bars, those woods. I lose the feel of those bodies more every day; it’s how it should be. What feeling remains is that of sharing… something. But what? Healy can’t give his soul — can’t even detect its damn edges — but even the bodies are on loan. But he’s certain that his lover, when somewhere else, is swapping souls. (I guess he’s singing “I’d hate to think to think about you with somebody else,” but I’ve been hearing “I need to”; it’s aggression masked as masochism masked as kindness.) And, by and large, that’s how it is. The electric piano plunges lightly, the guitar is a warning from two buildings over. Even his oafish attempt to break the reverie — “fuck that/get money” — is feeble. Most of the time, all of it — the touch, the inquiries — ends up like the track: fading without notice, leaving you to whisper “I know” to no body but yours.
[8]

Scott Mildenhall: Disembodied soul music about disembodied souls. What wasn’t quite achieved by The Human League’s cover of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” is here realised superbly, covering the metaphorical gamut of heat, warmth, coldness and coolness at a stroke. Between all those contradictions, it’s not surprising that the result is quite weird, but it wouldn’t be as weird as it is without the centrepiece distinction between “body” and “somebody.” It’s a breakdown of essential elements repeated almost to the point of semantic satiation; everything merging as it splits apart.
[8]

Will Adams: The beauty of “Somebody Else” is how it unpacks the contradiction of its central lyric and weaves it through the whole song. It’s the conflict between synthpop that’s at once grooving but glacial, alluring but insular. It’s the dissonance of being in a tight, humid room but feeling frigid, of being surrounded by dancing people but feeling absolutely alone, of desiring an intangible connection with someone but agonizing over the fact that you just witnessed losing the physical connection of a hand-hold leaving the club. It’s the simultaneous feeling that you’ve been alienated from everyone else in the world, but mostly yourself.
[8]

Ryo Miyauchi: You have to peek no deeper into “Somebody Else” than the frost of its haunting synths to feel just how cold Matty Healy’s love has turned. He lets the titular phrase echo endlessly down the hollow hall of its beat, only because that’s how it may ring when your old love drops the bad news to you. But more than a vision of them being intimate with another, it’s the scene where they innocently scroll through their phone that pains me most. What’s on the screen that’s so worthy of zoning out from what’s in front of them? A gallery of new photos with their new partner? A field of text messages more charming or funny than his? If you think a love lost means no longer having another body to undress, fuck that, get real: this is the real soul-to-soul connection to miss.
[10]

William John: Precisely two weeks after the premiere of “Somebody Else” on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 radio show this year, I met somebody with whom I’m now in a loving and committed relationship. It’s striking timing, given that my previous experiences of romantic love were all haplessly unrequited, and as soon as a song comes along that so accurately and painfully captures the essence of this violet-tinged loneliness, I’ve gone about defamiliarising myself with that experience. Frankly, I’m grateful that I can bystand and otherise while synths crumble around Matty Healy, who’s singing about looking at somebody in a room who is supposed to be looking back at him, but whose focus instead lies with someone else. Had I been implicated in similar circumstances, it would honestly have been far too much to bear. Of particular note here is the malleability of the text. “Somebody Else” has a compelling queerness, what with the deafening silence of the space between its protagonists and the endless awkwardness of not-really-knowing: that lowly, bleak feeling of wanting something you cannot have is so relatable to queer people embedded in straight spaces. It’s a extraordinary piece of sad music, and a situation so shitty almost doesn’t deserve to be rendered with this level of beauty.
[10]

Tim de Reuse: Some lines hit like a brick, simple and grounded and too goddamn easy to relate to: “I’m looking through you as you’re looking through your phone/and then leaving with somebody else.” Some lines are more high-minded, landing awkwardly, snapping out of the defeatist fantasy: “Our love has gone cold/You’re intertwining your soul with somebody else.” The successes here lie in the loping, mournful instrumental, the properly pathetic vocal delivery, the subtle warping ornamentation — all the bits that effectively communicate the syrupy early-evening numbness of our protagonist. The failures lie in, well, everything that doesn’t do that — half the song matches its subject matter perfectly, half would rather not be as restrained, and the overall impact is lesser for it.
[6]

Edward Okulicz: This comes so close to being brilliant that it feels picky to point out its faults, but the way Matt Healy’s voice is distorted so he sounds like… uh… Spandau Ballet? Rick Astley..? Someone other than Matt Healy: it makes him sound like a dead person, not someone who is dying inside because of what somebody else is doing with somebody else. A corpse doesn’t bleed sadness, and I don’t believe a word, and pithy as some of the lines are, some of them are just a wanker’s failed attempts to be clever, and there’s plenty of successes elsewhere on the album.
[7]

Joshua Copperman: When The 1975 get it right, they knock it out of the park. When The 1975 whiff, they are insufferable. This has elements of both sides, but mostly the former, with suspended, shifting backing vocals circling around some surprisingly emotional, earnest lyrics. And the titular line alone expresses a whole song’s worth of emotions in one simple bit of wordplay. Unfortunately, the bridge exists. “Fuck that” indeed. The whole reason why this song works is the intimacy, and when Matt Healy becomes nasally and rock-star-frontman-y again, it comes close to falling apart. The shift in tone (and formant) works thematically, as he’s telling himself psh, I don’t need love anyway, but it clashes sonically. “Somebody Else” is so brutally pretty until that moment that when it comes, it kills the vibe completely — the bridge appears like an alarm clock set a half hour too early, a rude awakening from the dreamscape that Mike Crossey and co. spent the whole song trying to create. Maybe they want the listener to pay closer attention to the lyrics, but this listener just wants to get lost in the music. I’m still giving it a high score though, because the rest of the song is just that breathtaking.
[8]

Alfred Soto: In one of the more outrageous, splendid musical cons, this English band refused to name itself The 1985. The synthesized throb of “Somebody Else” doesn’t sound like 1985 so much as an approximation. As a formalist gesture — as an album track, not a single — it works: it’s pretty and boasts the correct presets. 
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: Their name is The 1975, but this sounds like The 1986: the last dregs of new wave sad-boy pop, like a watered-down Howard Jones ballad. And I loathe Howard Jones.
[2]

Anthony Easton: Because dance music you can dance to would be vulgar, and dance music you can fuck to wouldn’t be serious enough, and amoral ennui is moral seriousness. Criticbait from the beginning — at least the Pet Shop Boys could write, and at least Arthur Russell had the chops to be this self-serious. 
[1]

Katherine St Asaph: Synthpop whose expensive velvet hand has smoothed out the flaws of Taylors and Abels before. He’s heeeere, to remind you, of nothing so dramatic really, just a possessive malaise drained of actual attraction and a petulant Biggie quote others wouldn’t get a pass on. Which is true enough to life, I suppose.
[6]

Leonel Manzanares: It answers the question, “What would’ve happened if Talk Talk returned from the post-Laughingstock mist and gone back to Pop?.” It also answers the question, “What if Chillwave would’ve had something actually meaningful to say?” Matty had never worn his heart on his sleeve so beautifully. Add this to the canon of greatest emo songs ever.
[9]

Iain Mew: One of the moments on the album that its sprawl is the most essential to, “Somebody Else” sounds like several songs in one but also like one more conventional synthpop song turned inside out. They turn would-be choruses turned into brief asides, subsumed within a fluid drift of despair and resignation that seeps and flows its way bit by bit into an all-consuming force.
[8]

Peter Ryan: Because it’s The 1975, “Somebody Else” came out right after Valentine’s Day; I had just been ghosted by the same boy for the second time in 12 months, having disregarded all of the most important truisms — fool me twice, blah blah blah, no feelings between December and March, etc. I listened to it for the first time at work: the combined wallop of those opening Rhodes chords and Matty’s angelic, utterly demolished vocal on the first verse nearly made me cry at my desk, and it’s still the most viscerally gutting sequence of sounds I’ve heard all year. I played it non-stop for I don’t know how long, imprinted all of my pathetic overblown feeling-sludge onto it, as its creators intended. The song’s not really about rejection or dissolution so much as the act of wallowing after, poring over the list of reasons why they didn’t want you; as such it’s disinterested in resolution — Matty just gets more warped and bitter as things go along, crusting over into a sneered “fuck that, get money” in the bridge, swallowed up by a cave-in of neuroses and synthy reverb on the final chorus. Leave “resilience” and “comfort” and “generosity” and “perspective” for later, other songs, other artists — this is all about surrendering to the mess.
[10]

Ramzi Awn: If the breakdowns are obvious on “Somebody Else,” it doesn’t hurt much. A strong, tuneful piece of synthwork, this disturbingly brand-conscious single makes for a radio-ready original slam dunk.
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: In his lush poise and louche persona, his lyrical pith and limpid poetics, Matt Healy doesn’t possess a personal brand so much as embody the concept entirely. He styles himself so adroitly that even his failure to maintain the charade is part of the charade, like in “Somebody Else” where he collapses over weeping synths into a flood of self-pity and petty jealousy. “I heard you found somebody else,” he whispers, pretty and fragile. “And at first, I thought it was a lie.” We are him; we want to hug him; even if he doesn’t deserve it and even if we don’t deserve it. The bassline throbs painfully while we struggle amidst our rancor and self-loathing for breath. “Somebody Else” is a destructive song — a beautiful and shimmering one — about possessiveness as a consciously and helplessly nihilistic emotion; it is fixated on suspicion and too-long silences instead of desire or endearment. “I’m looking through you,” Healy mews, “I hate to think about you.” And: “I don’t want your body.” Or, “I can’t give you my soul.” His thoughts turn repetitive and so does the groove, which recurs, nudging itself along without getting anywhere. It’s Matt Healy undone; it’s Matt Healy in his most perfect form. It’s one of this year’s most wonderful songs.
[10]

Megan Harrington: In the accompanying music video, there’s a shot of Matty Healy in an elevator, his reflection visible in the mirrored interior, his head bowed, a single glossy, black curl hanging in his face, his straight, heavy eyebrows casting his eyes in darkness, his nose a piece of handcrafted marzipan, his lips bent in a slight, contemplative frown. Matty Healy’s face is insufferably beautiful, it’s a cruel and it’s a brutal hallelujah. There is no one more suited to “Somebody Else” than Matty Healy but despite that, it’s unsurprising the song is so resonant, that everyone hears themselves in the way his charm curdles into nihilism or the way his pained “come on, baby!” is met with a quiet “I know.” Synthpop is a home for both excess and fragility, the bombast of laser guided melodies and the brittleness of space-age love songs. “Somebody Else” manages to be both, at all times. It’s an understated arrangement, full of grace and space, but all that good taste is the table runner for Healy’s despondency, loneliness, and anger. This is the anthem of a generation, it’s a soundtrack to Twitter feeds that phrase hurt feelings and depression as disarming jokes, and it’s the voice of rejecting suburban homes and cul-de-sac complacency with a “fuck that get money!” shouted at the top of your lungs. All these oppositions are framed inside the song as a division of soul and body. Healy doesn’t want to touch your body, to feel your body or give any part of his body over to your body, but he doesn’t want you to belong to somebody else either. And yet, he protests that he can’t give you his soul — not because his essence can’t be given like a gift but because he doesn’t own his own soul, much less you. Our identities are formed in moments of fracture; absence and loss lead to a greater understanding of the self. Healy strikes a Faustian deal; he’ll forgo love but he’ll keep the flame.
[10]

Reader average: [6.36] (22 votes)

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4 Responses to “The 1975 – Somebody Else”

  1. lazy misogynists realise there’s no money left in indie rock, pirouette into electro pop, still have nothing interesting to say and no memorable way to say it. awful.

  2. Totally baffling to me that Americans give this band the time of day. Rightly mocked in their home country.

  3. Spiritually putting a 10 in the Metadata of this site, will make wttl somehow change the stats.

    Jk

  4. SIDEBAR PLEASE!

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