Issy Murray reviews The 1975’s latest single
The 1975’s ‘The Birthday Party’ is the fifth single released from their new album Notes on a Conditional Form (NOACF), and is quite a contrast from the song’s that have preceded it. ‘The Birthday Party’ is slow, but not in an explicitly sad way. It’s more like an exhalation, a sigh of relief, with hazy drums, gentle banjo and smooth saxophone creating a soft melody that lulls listeners.
Upon more careful listening to the lyrics, the song is revealed to be one concerned with the world’s temptations, specifically the internet and drugs. It also deals with what NME has called “issue avoidance”, and of having to rely on friends and others to hold you accountable for your actions. These lyrics are delivered in a conversational, stream of consciousness style, generating a sense of vulnerability and providing an intimate insight into Matty Healy’s psyche. These ideas are reinforced by the music video, which was directed by Ben Ditto and Jon Emmony and is set in ‘Mindshower Digital Detox’, a particularly interesting setting given Healy’s history with rehabilitation, which he has been open about both in songs and interviews. An eerie, augmented CGI Matty travels through a Garden of Eden-like scene, encountering out of date memes. As a live experience, the 1975’s set turns the song into an immersive experience for audience members, as they travel with Healy through the dystopia.
It’s more like an exhalation, a sigh of relief, with hazy drums
Ditto comments on how this submergence into a world filled with relics of the internet reflects his and Healy’s “fascination with the underbelly of internet culture” in a press statement. Healy himself says of the single in an interview with Dazed Magazine: “There’s a song called The Birthday Party that’s just about the interesting social minutiae of house parties. I was gonna do a song that was like, ‘What it was like to be at a house party at 20, 25, and 29’. But then I realised I don’t need to do it, I just need to do what it’s like now, because my career has been what it’s been like to be at a house party at 20, 25, and 29.”. While commenting on the double-edged sword that is the internet, ‘The Birthday Party’ also reveals how varied NOACF is going to be, as it is very different from their screamo-single ‘People’, or their electronic pop single ‘Frail State of Mind’, or even their classically noughties single ‘Me and You Together Song’. The diverse nature of NOACF is an exciting prospect; here’s hoping there is no more delay in the release of the album.