Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

The 1975 – Give Yourself a Try

Dawn of the Second 1975 Day…


Claire Biddles: If I Like It When You Sleep… was characterised by its excess of drugs and sax solos and pathetically doomed romance, perhaps the next album will be characterised by its excess of earnestness. “Give Yourself a Try” spills over with sincerity and solemnity. These characteristics have always been present in The 1975’s music, hidden with irony, or in the last two tracks of a long, long album, or buried in parenthesis — “Before you go (please don’t go)” — but they have never been so pronounced. From the gentle encouragement of the title to the wise old man lyrics, a millennial “My Way,” any worries of self-help corniness are instantly dampened by Matty Healy’s careful, generous, knowing delivery. The characteristic musical steals are earnest too: Joy Division, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Postal Service, bashed-up CDs on a Mancunian teenager’s shelf; the return to the parental home in a crisis. There are quotes from their own songs, too, because The 1975 are the only (white, rock-adjacent) band audacious enough to position themselves as equals to their greatest musical influences. Irony is present (“getting STDs at 27 really isn’t a vibe”), but spoken in the deadpan voice of a friend who has only ever been able to tell you that he wants to kill himself in the format of a joke. There are the familiar competing layers of profundity and jokes psyching each other out: Matty’s wide-eyed tribute to sincerity in the context of getting clean and surviving his 20s that introduced the song’s first radio play is repeated almost verbatim from a therapist’s couch by the coked-up rock star cliche he plays at the start. He knows that advice from a famous rich man is laughable, but he’s going to do it anyway. And I’m glad he has — maybe I’m projecting, but I can hear the exhaustion that comes from rapidly switching emotional states for months, and specifically the hopeful exhaustion of getting to the other side: a culmination of the self-knowledge, the diagnosis, the reflection, the therapy. Even though I don’t know him, and it’s childish, it feels like Matty is two steps ahead of me, like he always is. Listening to “Give Yourself a Try” feels like readying myself to be exposed to the viscera of life while having my hand held by the person I love the most after months and months and months of mutual struggle, and I am so, so glad that The 1975 are back.

Vikram Joseph: Like Matty Healy, and like a lot of my friends, I’ve found myself with my toes dipping into the cold waters of my early 30s without really knowing how the fuck I got there. And for the most part, I feel pretty good about it, more at ease with myself than I’ve ever been. But there are questions, and they don’t disappear quietly. Surely I should be more settled by now? Have I wandered too much, or not enough? Why did a lack of self-confidence hold me back from what I really wanted for so long? “Give Yourself A Try” addresses all of these, in its own way. Healy’s lyrics scan like a good Twitter feed — scattergun and conversational, flipping from jokey to profoundly sad without any warning at all. There’s a fair bit of Los Campesinos! in its twitchy, propulsive angst, and a lot of LCD Soundsystem buried in its DNA — this might be “All My Friends” for those of us who deal with our problems exclusively by making jokes about them. Most of all, it sounds like Pulp would if Jarvis Cocker was a millennial and grew up dancing to The Strokes and Robyn. It’s emotionally generous and exhilarating and kind of heartbreaking.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hell yes it’s jaded and encouraging and sincere and the guitar line is emblematic of how dizzying life feels in your late 20s and the repetitious chorus acts as a soothing repose to Matt’s typically loquacious verses and the balance he finds between unapologetically honest and crass allows for an internet-era relatability that succeeds because of how his self-deprecation creates a familiar distancing. The 1975 are truly the greatest guitar band around.

Alfred Soto: With the drum machine as intentionally tinny as a TV on the Radio single and guitars echoing “She’s Lost Control,” the latest by The 1975 buzzes and grinds through its insights into male aging, insights that, in Matt Healy’s reckoning, depend on one’s attitude toward possessions. I don’t know if a 20-year-old kid in Sarasota will make as much money as Healy, certainly not enough to start coffee collections. So Healy replaces the dreams of youth with the vanities of being 30. Advice or self-medication? Give it a try.

Jessica Doyle: So my theory is that Matty locked himself in a room with 12 Rules for Life for a couple weeks, and anyone who banged on the door got back only Berlin’s “The Metro” on repeat. (Which, fair: there are few better songs to play on repeat while contemplating that time you can’t get back, when conspicuous self-destruction was a lot more fun, only now the past is the past and the present is ashes and you’re tempted to romanticize your own self, against your better judgment.) And by the time Matty said, “This is gobshite; I’m going to write about character and self-improvement THE MATTY WAY,” and emerged with the lyrics, the reluctance to work further on the music was severe.

Nortey Dowuona: Shrieking guitars, a near invisible bass and flat, plastic drums gird Matt Healy’s soft, tasteful vocal without really ever bounding into something bigger — or better.

Micha Cavaseno: For all Matty Healy’s seeming openness and saliva-mouthed TMI dribblings, he’s got his masks of self-effacement and insipid wit that work their best to deflect and refract so you can never ever properly judge him for his narcissism being cushioned by a gaping chasm of self-loathing. “Give Yourself a Try” nags with a guitar whine that works more like a dental drill than a riff, while Matty performs verbal capoeira as a furious abandon of implication. The song itself feels surprisingly without footing compared to a lot of 1975 singles, yet doesn’t ever sound like a proper retreat from what’s already worked for the band. If anything, the insistence to proceed feels less determined and more avoidant, as if the weight of actual self-realization could sink the whole rush to flight.

Edward Okulicz: I detect a twinge of genuine sympathy in Matty’s delivery of the chorus. His cocaine-and-breasts arseholery of previous songs tells me not to accept it at face value, because it’s probably being delivered to himself in a mirror, but I like it anyway. The 1975 do not chuck out the biggest riches as the first single, anyway.

Scott Mildenhall: For a song that near enough espouses stepping away from the internet, “a millennial that baby boomers like” is a real step away from the internet line (and not least when you look at the country-by-country data on the use of those terms). At times the meandering lyrics veer so close to the least insightful marketer’s flipchart — coffee! vinyl! beards! — that they come to seem like they were written about Shrimpy from EastEnders. But simultaneously, they sound clawingly human. Semantically ambiguous as the title is, it caps off a sense of someone seeking self-acceptance with a desperation, uncertainty and self-laceration that makes any resolution of their unease hard to imagine. When contentment is a high bar, committing to it might just cause more anxiety.

Katherine St Asaph: I have listened to Colleen Green’s “Deeper Than Love” far too often to non-hypocritically comment on the quarterlife angst here. But this is still Father John Misty for people who secretly miss Cobra Starship. Docked a point because the vocals make the Dirty Projectors sound like the Three Tenors. Docked another point because “like context in a modern debate, I just took it out” is so sneeringly self-satisfied that repeating it three times in a mirror — where you probably were already — will cause Betelgeuse to appear with tickets to a Reddit convention. Docked infinite points because bloviating that “the only apparatus required for happiness is your pain and fucking going outside” right before mentioning a teenage girl’s suicide is either staggeringly oblivious, staggeringly callous, or staggeringly misjudged sarcasm.

Nicholas Donohoue: I hate being so disarmed by a song that I’m fundamentally at odds with. This still has the usual The 1975 habit of being too verbally erudite for its own good in the verses while being direct to the point of passing as kindergarten lessons in the chorus. But there’s a spark here that I haven’t felt from their prior songs. Somewhere in the conga line of listing your own issues and then counterpointing with how your own genuine self is mired in the bullshit, I feel it. Even referencing the specific instance of a fan’s suicide, which reads as exploitative to me, I let slide. The best case I could give for my unabashed love of this song is that I love songs that are about accepting culpability, and somehow The 1975 is taking the blame and responsibility without ever saying so. They’re less asking for my sympathy as they are for their own forgiveness.

Ryo Miyauchi: The titular advice in the chorus is meant to be sardonic, I’m guessing, as most of Matty Healy’s gestures tend to read. But “Give Yourself a Try” is not entirely dismissive of life. The crude, motorik version of the band’s “Sex” that jitters underneath him is too restless to let him give up; I would hope for this to be the case in a song throwing in a questionable aside about suicide. Instead, it’s just accepting of how pathetic all of it can be, and Matty once again stands in as the clown to represent that idea. As much as he beats on with an groan-inducing gallery of personal anecdotes, his lyrics are too cloyingly specific, more than the previous album, for his lessons to speak for experiences beyond his own. Honestly, in the case of The 1975, that’s for everyone’s own good.

Elisabeth Sanders: When “Sex” hit the scene what seems like at least two, maybe three lifetimes ago it felt revelatory, electric; equal parts yearning and snide, that strange knife-edge of wanting somebody and wishing you didn’t, of being hurt by rejection and not even, like, caring, anyway, so like, whatever. The 1975’s subsequent debut album rolled that vibe out into a whole mood, intensely specific, rude and depressed and kinda horny, taking place in real space, youth’s graceless moments tinged with the romanticism that sits inside most kids that wish they hated everything more than they actually do. But as they moved away from talking about dirty floors and the curve of somebody’s mouth and into the inevitable arrogance of young men who think they understand the whole world, the freewheeling idiotic heart that once made the band great became tiresome and thoughtless. I’ll listen to almost anybody, no matter how myopic, examine their own interiority; I’m a lot less interested in those people’s general thoughts about the state of the world. If I wanted to hear a guy with a guitar tell me about what’s wrong with society I’d still be straight.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: Millions of people in their late 20s may (and will) deeply relate to the words of Matty Healy in “Give Yourself a Try”, not because he’s a bearer of truth — he’s equally prophet and charlatan — but because these are times so confusing, we tend to turn to the unreliable narrator to make some sense of them. Only in this generation, where the lines between irony and sincerity are so blurred, could we use (and need to use) the language of self-deprecation to convey hope, speak of isolation to form of communal bond, and take a freakin’ Joy Division guitar line for a track that we can all agree to call uplifting. 

Stephen Eisermann: Hearing Matty be so open and playful about the hardships he’s faced is refreshing and inspiring, but it’s made better due to the guitar loop that serves as the anchor for this track. Life is noisy, like this song, but you have to find your path through all of the ruckus. And with this song on repeat, I’m confident you’ll at least start to see the path. 

Will Rivitz: For me, songs are most alluring when an artist takes a limited number of musical ideas and milks them for all they’re worth, enmeshing me in a hypnotic loop of sound that morphs and evolves so glacially that I have no choice but to be pushed along with it. I’m having trouble thinking of a song that embodies exactly what I love about music, particularly pop music, quite so well. The instrumental entrances, mirage-like, precisely three notes of bass counterweighting precisely two notes of guitar so accurately that I’m not sure why we’d ever need more frets. Those three seconds’ worth of a perfect loop distort and compress over time, Matty Healy singing ever more desolately as his band disintegrates behind him. So much is made from so little, like a clown car if each clown that stepped from the buggy were Dr. Manhattan. “Give Yourself A Try” is an atom bomb: only one or two nuclei need tear apart, and the whole world follows suit.

Reader average: [7] (6 votes)

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15 Responses to “The 1975 – Give Yourself a Try”

  1. s/o to Claire for bookending [10]s

  2. yesss #1975club RETURNS!! I was gonna go [9] but i threw caution to the wind lol

  3. “Father John Misty for people who secretly miss Cobra Starship” I yelled

  4. it took some streamlining but that is now possible output of the bot

  5. Lol @ both me and Claire referencing the fine art of making jokes about sad things

  6. u much more eloquently than me!

  7. Joshua, did you mean to give this a 2? Your blurb seems to clash with this rating

  8. Yes

  9. when the shade is too subtle

  10. I love Joshua’s blurb, I am unabashedly a fan of cases where the score is the most eloquent part. Would have given this an [8] probably, but couldn’t think of anything to say besides how it is that half the video feels like early era Manics cosplay.

  11. Weird. How weird it is.

  12. Been absorbing some more of the writing here and it’s all SO good. Special mention to Leonel’s blurb and Elisabeth’s killer last line.

  13. I’m intrigued by the 1-7-10 split over the reviews mentioning the suicide line, even though they all mention how suspect it is.

  14. But this is still Father John Misty for people who secretly miss Cobra Starship.

    this is the most accurate description of the 1975 ever made holy shit like… you know I’m gonna be quoting this until the end of days

  15. it’s possible I am more twitchy about suicide-related stuff after the past week but come on, dude