Monday, December 12th, 2016

The 1975 – A Change of Heart



Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: I Like It When You Sing, For You Are So Wistful Yet So Sickeningly Aware of It. 

Hannah Jocelyn: And this is where they hit it out of the park. Yes, I just cited myself, but so does Matt Healy here, several times over. Everyone involved is at the peak of their powers, with the exception of the “breasts” and “you smell a bit” lines. But the rest of this is so perfect in its simplicity, even as The 1975 is so often associated with excess. There’s nothing remotely out of place here — it just all sounds meant to be together, as even the “you smell a bit” line gets a rhyme with “you were fit but you’re losing it” later in the song. This is as close to perfect as the group is going to get. It’s so mesmerizing that it’s difficult to even type this while listening to the song, as it’s too easy to just be immersed in the lyrical scene-setting, the instrumentation, and yes, those references to earlier songs. Wherever they go from here, I’m definitely going to follow. 

Ryo Miyauchi: The self-references here are Easter eggs buried like a three-year-old blog post deep down a Tumblr feed. They’re mementos of who Matty Healy was: a young, wide-eyed soul, hungry for love and thrills. And “A Change of Heart” aches because they’re now a deserted shrine to what he used to believe in. The most painful of them all is a response to his lyrics from “Robbers”: “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine; now you just look like anyone.” Appearances don’t change, just his perceptions of them.

Alfred Soto: An asshole’s lament, dependent on one’s tolerance for the synths and Matt Healy’s “self-aware” Kerouac reference (ah, “self-awareness” — the bane of my existence in a year when accepting Kanye got confused with making excuses for him). To get infuriated by “A Change of Heart” means paying attention to the words, and the healy-mouthed vocal doesn’t or won’t help. Besides, why bother? Its host album has prettier electronic jams.

Katherine St Asaph: Madonna’s “Crazy For You” as performed by a band with chronic anhedonia, atop of which is the basic throughline of “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like a Motherfucker.” The polite arrangement feigns the sensitivity that the lyric lacks: yet another dude’s contempt for his supposedly shallower ex (whom he dated anyway), what with her Instagrammed salads and her unseemly cigarette technique and her breasts. “Change of heart” nothing; what we have here is a change of dick. And like all such penile fluctuations, it’s nowhere near as meaningful as he thinks.

Anthony Easton: The mumble is frustrating because they think they are clever. They have that kind of above-it-all, laconic sprechsang that kind of works if the music commits (see Amanda Lear), but nothing here commits, and becomes a drone-y, grey muddle of emo theatrics — if we considered standing still a kind of theatrics. (Rae Sremmurd did an entire movement of the theatrics of sitting still, and the first three seconds of “Black Beatles” could teach The 1975 how to hit similar targets with much better skill) 

Thomas Inskeep: This makes my heart cold and dead. I liked “The Sound” quite a bit earlier this year, but this sounds like Maroon 5 for the Hot Topic crowd, twee and limp and just about everything I dislike about hit music now.

Juana Giaimo: Maybe my problem with The 1975 is that I can’t believe Matt Healy’s self-pity. This time he sings that he has a change of heart as if he was observing it rather than not living it. His other observations about a relationship that has lost all excitement may be clever, but unlike “Somebody Else,” his absent-mood in “A Change of Heart” isn’t convincing enough to make this song fully cynical — maybe because the melody is too mellow, especially because of those choir-like “oh-oh”s.

Will Adams: A less effective cut from I Like It When You Sleep…, “A Change of Heart” meanders around its powdered-sugar production without much variation, save for a few, brief moments of poignant pause.

Claire Biddles: Everything ends up blank in the end. All hopes become neutralised, not so much going sour as being wiped clean, the jutting bones exposed under stretched skin. “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine/but now you just look like anyone.” All the hope and possibility that you tied up in one person isn’t there anymore. You made them into a fictional character, you used them for your dress-up Bonnie and Clyde fantasy, but they’re just a real person after all, and so are you. “A Change of Heart” is the pathetic realisation that you’re both disappointments. It’s the act of scrolling through your Instagram in bed, newly dull and emotionless, deleting all the evidence with cried-off scraps of last night’s make-up crusted into your cheeks. But it’s also the knowledge that you’ll do it again, the inevitability of an broken promise, like kidding yourself you’ll never drink again when you’re hungover. Cynicism might temporarily cancel out romanticism, but true romantics like Matty Healy, like everyone who clings to this song, like me — we all know this cycle repeats itself forever, and we’re always going to be willing participants.

Megan Harrington: There’s a croon Matty Healy affects for “A Change of Heart,” and like everything about this song, it works on two levels. It’s a soft seduction, his vocal high in the mix, intimate in your ears. He’s tugging at your wrist, but never begging or pleading, never rising above the level of suggestion that you’ll like him, that you’ll believe him. And it’s a disguise. If you don’t like him, if you don’t believe him, the truth is that it wasn’t even him, he’s not that crooner. On most occasions he performs the song with a cigarette dangling from his fingertips, a glass of wine in his other hand, and his hip pressed to the side of bandmate Ross MacDonald’s keyboard. Adding a full philharmonic orchestra, as the band did for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge concert series, proves the song is fundamentally consistent with Disney’s soundtrack masterpieces. The context juxtaposes Healy’s preternaturally oozy lounge lizard with his own childlike desire to be loved unconditionally. Scaling the song up offers adults their own “Beauty and the Beast,” but the band are also capable of performing “A Change of Heart” in a very small way — just Healy strumming a single note on his guitar and guitarist Adam Hann punching keyboard presets — which demonstrates the framework, the architecture. As beautiful as the song’s pastel synths are, and as gentle as they sound in comparison to the numb, grey theremin that wafts in like chloroform on a dirty rag, the feat here is ultimately one of concept. It’s a fitting together of little pieces: self-loathing and carbonation, comfort and goodbye. “A Change of Heart” documents Healy’s worst side but it also holds forth the promise of redemption, not through the titular change of heart but through self-acceptance, allowing the proliferation of masks to be as real as the hidden face.

Edward Okulicz: The narrator’s unreliable most of the time, but I believe it when it switches to what the woman says. Therefore, I conclude that despite Matt Healy claiming he had the change of heart, it’s actually she who’s had it and he’s pathetically trying to convince himself of the opposite. This vapid girl who posts pictures of her food on the Internet, she dumped him, how could this be? There’s what I think is a theremin doing an impression of a Stylophone, and it is midnight longing and self-loathing. Unlike on “Somebody Else,” the pathos on this one hits its target cleanly.

Jonathan Bradley: Perhaps what makes Matt Healy the ideal avatar of twenty-something indolence is the way, for all his charm and intelligence and careful, witty turns of phrase, it rarely leads him to anything satisfying or substantial. He condescends to women posting their salads on the ‘gram, but he’s the one quoting Kerouac and his own songs, and playing it off like it’s not dopey because he’s self-aware. (Lest it go to his head, we won’t mention that this song is an embarrassment of delicious couplets; “You were coming across as clever/Then you lit the wrong end of your cigarette” is a nastily observed moment of failed social grace in a song stuffed with them.) The girl gets the best put-down of the song anyway: “I’ve been so worried about you lately,” she avers. “You look shit and you smell a bit.” The song’s muted merry-go-round riff twirls round once more. A change of heart? Matty, I don’t think it was your heart that counted here.

Brad Shoup: Even before she quoted Matty back to Matty, the contours of “Sex” were buried in those first few lines. For those inclined, “A Change of Heart” nests references to other cuts from the self-titled. Those who aren’t may wonder why he’s spending so much time creaming over magazines. It’s sophistipop for churls: jagged insults ground up and poured over someone’s head. The sliding one-note solo on some kind of treated guitar is a callous shrug: what a lil stinker I am.

Katie Gill: Imagine that a modern synthpop band was asked to write the break-up montage song for a movie set in the 1980s, but they couldn’t use any actual 1980s songs and had to write something new. That’s this song. Points also given for the correct assumption that a lot of people who quote Kerouac are actual jerks.

Ramzi Awn: The aching way the single word “city” is sung is enough to express the possibility of pop in one moment. The track reads like a Dear John letter with more balls, and recalls a certain time with swagger.  

Iain Mew: I don’t know if it’s the “Only You” effect, if it’s coming from a part of the world whose enduring seasonal favourite involves a couple exchanging insults, or just listening to it while wrapping presents, but somehow right now this sounds like a fitting Christmas song for a shitty year.

Reader average: [4.71] (7 votes)

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24 Responses to “The 1975 – A Change of Heart”

  1. jesus christgau two entries on the 1975 in a row what is wrong with y’all

  2. Also I rewrote the blurb but apparently forgot to press “update” :(
    I wa gonna add things about the references to previous songs in both the 1975 canon (“I never found love in The City”) and the general breakup song canon (the guitar in the second half resembles “Second Hand News” and the weird synth solo resembles “Torn”).

    There was also a line I had about how it literally feels like being in Matt Healy’s head, with all the random memories and song references popping up throughout.

    Also, I might have been the only person to rate this higher than “Somebody’s Else”, which doesn’t surprise me at all.

  3. cool, great. contempt from both sides.

  4. you would think if it caused men so much internal anguish to date women they consider beneath them, they’d just… not date them. but tits, amirite?

  5. oh come on, katherine. feeling that way is not limited to men vs. women, don’t extrapolate from this song and blow it up to the size of jupiter and then say it’s the whole of heterosexual romance. plenty of women aren’t too into their exes either, surely you’ve heard every adele song?

  6. It’s the specific details chosen: lighting “the wrong end” of a cigarette, “coming across as clever,” the part where “regret” immediately segues into her Instagramming a salad. (And of course it’s a salad.) These details aren’t chosen by accident. They are chosen because they portray the girl as shallow, if not outright stupid. Adele songs don’t do that.

    (I left out the parts about “you look shit and smell a bit” and such because it’s honestly not clear who’s saying what.)

  7. lighting the wrong end of a cigarette is something people do when they’re drunk (later a pint glass is knocked to the ground, reinforcing that she’s drunk, not stupid.) the salad line serves a similar purpose as “i’m looking through you and you’re looking through your phone” in “somebody else” — she’s mediating her reality, which is something he’s also guilty of elsewhere on the album (“i’m just with my friends online” in “love me” or “i took all my things that make sounds the rest i can do without” in “somebody else.”)

    adele songs are much more generic and aim for a corny timelessness so things like food and cellphones are never going to be a part of her catalog, but her artistic perspective is similarly filled with other-inflicted woe and a lack of personal responsibility when things go to shit.

  8. wrt Adele, specifically “Send My Love To Your New Lover” is PEAK “the relationship broke apart so I am 100% putting the blame on you despite the fact that there are signs that I was part of the problem as well”, like right even from the first line.

  9. “she’s mediating her reality, which is something he’s also guilty of elsewhere on the album”

    i mean i’d say it’s within the same song too, imo this song is just a bunch of failing projections that he’s placed on both her and himself

    but i also don’t think katherine’s wrong, it’s a mean, mean song.

    anyway personally i love how it sounds like “say hello wave goodbye,” another extremely mean song

  10. Yeah, this is an incredibly spiteful and resentful song whose spite and bitterness is wearing like a wig or a false nose in trying to make out that it’s slightly rueful or sad or whatever.

    By contrast, Adele’s guilty of being a bit smug, but she doesn’t burn her bridges like this.

  11. “Say Hello Wave Goodbye” isn’t written sad; even if you didn’t speak English the voice, arrangement, and melodies SOUND mean.

  12. sure, it’s a mean song but katherine’s point, as i see it, is that the meanness comes from hating the girl. i think the meanness comes from self-hatred and she’s more like collateral. adele maybe wasn’t the perfect comparison (with hindsight i should have gone with taylor swift, right?) but all i meant to suggest was that women are perfectly capable of “internal anguish” due to dating men “they consider beneath them.” i think adele meets that low bar.

  13. It honestly never occurred to me that as a listener I was supposed to root for the narrator or think his judgments were correct, and I feel like the song makes it pretty clear that these are both flawed and fairly unpleasant people?

  14. The meanness doesn’t come from hating the girl, the meanness comes from men’s baseline view of women as frivolous, shallow and beneath them. There really isn’t a comparison for women, because women are not socialized to view men as shallow, frivolous or beneath them, no matter how self-loathing or self-aware they are.

    Adele doesn’t do this. (I probably like “Send My Love to Your New Lover” more than most of the people in this thread, but she never treats the man as if he’s stupid — if anything, he’s granted way more dignity than usual.) Taylor Swift doesn’t do it, even at her meanest (“Picture to Burn,” I guess? The closest she gets is “redneck,” which coming from a country artist isn’t necessarily an insult.) I referenced Alanis on the other track; she doesn’t do it. So vanishingly few women do this that when they do, it’s an anomaly. I can’t even think of any. “Needed Me,” maybe? (But even then, it’s Rihanna deliberately emasculating and condescending to the dude, not just going with the default.)

  15. i don’t know how you can identify this song as indicative of even matty healy’s baseline view of women, much less the view all men have of all women. it’s a song with an “i” and a “you.” two people. and i continue to disagree that the girl is supposed to be in some way beneath him. this is more like who’s afraid of virginia woolf — two flawed people saying whatever they can to hurt each other. i think she is depicted as giving as good as she gets. to bring up the instagram lyric again, the full image is her giving him a cold look and telling him he’s a sick person and then ignoring him to interact with her phone. this isn’t a portrait of shallowness, it’s a portrait of passive aggression.

  16. The full image is a man talking about a woman “coming across as clever” (the “coming across” means he thinks she isn’t; otherwise, why would it be there? Why would there be a need to say it at all, let alone in those terms?) lighting “the wrong end” of a cigarette (nowhere is it stated that she is drunk, or that the glass-smashing incident had anything to do with being drunk, or that they were even the same day) and then doing men’s second-favorite pejorative thing for women to do with a cell phone, described in the most condescending terms possible. The only thing “cold” about this is him being stunned — stunned! shocked! no one told him! that an ex-girlfriend might pick up on his attitude.

  17. as far as “indicative of the view all men have of all women,” as reluctant as I am to fight the not-all-men fight once again, this is backward. The view of women came first, and is almost inescapable in media by men. It’s the same complaint I have about Drake, or the Chainsmokers, or Ed Sheeran, or Adam Levine, or the Weeknd, or Justin Bieber. It’s the same shit the world practically bathes women in. (This is another post with an interesting gender divide — scores aside, it’s largely the men who picked up on the narrator being an asshole.)

  18. *awkwardly chimes in*
    As someone who was a bit of a wallflower when it came to male socialization, but succumbed to it just as often, I think that Healy’s douchiness is sympathizable, though far from endearing. The knowledge you should get out of your own way, but the inability to do so, is something that permeates both this song and arguably “Somebody Else” – There’s almost certainly a part of him that knows he shouldn’t call out the girl for the Instagram post, or mention her breasts, but he does anyway.

    That said, upon relistening he does come across like the kind of guy that would use “hey, I’m just being honest!” as a defense, so what do I know?

  19. adele’s send my lover is a masterpeice

  20. I’m with Katherine, this is the most woman hating album I’ve seen embraced by the music press in many years.

  21. “There’s almost certainly a part of him that knows he shouldn’t call out the girl for the Instagram post, or mention her breasts”

    *offers Matt Healy a cookie*

    “but he does anyway”

    No! No cookie for Matt Healy! Matt Healy can sustain himself on being interesting, which is what guys get to call this.

  22. Okay I get it now, but can someone please explain to me how he can be singing the song when according to the video he’s actually a mime in real life?

  23. the specificity and amount of details provided implies that he is a guy that catalogues everything in a relationship for its potential weaponization down the road — i think just the act of recalling these quotes and perceived embarrassments paints him in a far worse light than her. given the info he provides, she’s portrayed as someone who has a way better grasp of their interpersonal dynamics while he brushes off a wholly deserved breakup as something inconsequential and self-determined.

    these layers make it a lot more interesting than ‘somebody else’, imo

  24. honestly, i thought that it was supposed to be a bait-and-switch: take the condescending trope and then invert it when the instrumental falls out and he recalls the girl saying “you look shit and you smell a bit,” then dig deeper when he calls himself out for being self-pitying and again recalls her saying “you played a part” and quoting the beginning line from “Sex.”

    it’s definitely a little too comfy sonically for me to feel like he’s fully buying into the self-critique—it still sounds like he wants the listener to be on the “side” of the narrator to my ears. but i definitely don’t think that he’s fully endorsing the cleverer-than-thou condescension, at least.