Thursday, May 21st, 2020

The 1975 – If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)

We have some notes…

Claire Biddles: One of my favourite 1975 tricks is the ability to pastiche very specific types of songs — usually from the tail end of a movement, or in a deeply unfashionable genre — and tease out their sense of fun and potential. For “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”, The 1975 assume the role of a rock band who got big in the early to mid ’80s, and went from arenas to stadiums — only to falter with an ostensibly ‘experimental’ (read: indulgent) fourth album, and face relegation to clubs and theatres. After an extended break (maybe a divorce?) it’s 1991 and they are BACK! with some lightly outdated production and a saxophone solo applied to their usually rock stomp (yacht rock passed them by at the time, but they did always think the rolled-up jackets looked cool) plus the girl the singer is maybe dating roped in to sing a bit at the start. It could be tragic, but instead it’s miraculous — every handclap and backing vocal as light as air. Undeniable frothy pop, number 7 in the charts, not a fan favourite but beloved by everyone else. Anyway, good thing The 1975 aren’t going to make a misstep on their fourth album like this imaginary band!! What a great standalone single this is!!

Alfred Soto: With their ratio of boring to awesome singles about even, imagine my surprise to learn “If You’re Too Shy” grabbed me at once. As an example of pop song composition, it’s flawless: well-delineated verses, an actual bridge, and kick-in-the-heart chorus. The rhythm guitar fills and synth bass punch up Matt Healy’s absurd tale about twins, hotels, and calling those twins in the nude. Their most attractive single since “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME,” “If You’re Too Shy” would’ve earned a higher grade if the saxophonist didn’t learn his lines from a Richard Marx ballad and the intro didn’t faff about too long.

Edward Okulicz: “Ask” by The Smiths repurposed as a sophisti-pop song — those chords could be “Life in a Northern Town,” for god’s sake — and vastly improved by the lyric “maybe I would like you better if you took off your clothes,” because making the sub-text into text is a trick I can always get behind.

Scott Mildenhall: It’s “Looking For Linda” with the internet and guitars, and so it is of course The 1975 in one of their many guises. Here, they’re drawing inside the lines enough to pick up broad-based airplay, and while they undersell things with a more verbose than hooky chorus, the wordiness does at least lead to two catchphrases. It’s a rare band that get to dip their toes in and out of radio waters so freely, and hearing this gawky, covertly bleak ebullience highlights how fortunate it is that this one can.

Will Adams: A brief inquiry into managing sexual tension on Zoom calls. As usual, it’s not as deep as Matty Healy likely thinks — turns out stripping over video chat is awkward! — but the sparkly synthpop, recalling the best moments of I Like It When You Sleep…, almost redeem it. Docked a point for the original version’s intro, which unscrupulously casts FKA Twigs as the voice of the anonymous e-siren.

Oliver Maier: In an unprecedented twist, the 1975 have released a 80s indebted pop rock song where Matty Healy is doing some pondering. He is having cybersex with a girl, you see, because he is cool and does things like that, but also he feels weird about it, because of how much he respects women. There is a saxophone solo, which I guess is supposed to be cathartic — the music that plays in his head when he, uh, gives himself a try — but is mainly there so that people will go “wow! A saxophone solo!” and the mainstream discourse, presumably, will go “ouch!”. As a single, it seems to be proving a winning exception for other sceptics of the band, and I’d love to be able to acquiesce, because I like to have fun. I just can’t really summon more praise than “competent” and “sorta catchy”.

Alex Clifton: Takes far too long to get to the good stuff, and Matty Healy chews all of his words so I can hardly understand what he says without looking at the subtitles on the YouTube video. The shame is that when it finally gets going, it’s really catchy! That’s normally enough to save a song for me, but instead I’m irritated because this could’ve been something actually good. Can someone explain to me why this band is popular, please?

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One Response to “The 1975 – If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”

  1. D*ran D*ran, Claire?

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