Sunday, 17 April 2016
On Song: The 1975 'Somebody Else'
"Our love has gone cold/ You're intertwining your soul with somebody else"
I've never liked The 1975. It wasn't a deep hatred or even anything particularly rational, but they always struck a bit of a 'meh' chord - I found their vocals somewhat irritating gimmicky, their lyrics bland and their media persona over-confident. Being brutally honest, I was of complete belief that their success was to be a flash in the pan, a teenage romance that would only last out the summer.
Luckily, I also believe in humble pie. When 'Love Me' was released in early 2016, I surprised myself with how instantly I was enthralled by it. Perfectly dissecting our ugly fascination with celebrity, it was everything The Ordinary Boys tried to do back in 2006, orchestrated with a far defter hand. I was slightly less into it's follow-up (Ugh!), but then I read an interview with the band's lead singer that changed everything all over again. Talking to NME, I don't remember the exact quote, but he explained that their album, the celestially named 'i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it' was designed to reflect society's changing interests, and that the meaningless of labels in millenial culture meant that they purposefully set out to make a record that encapsulated everything in music at the moment.
Along with the album campaigns impeccably orchestrated artwork (rose quartz pink, not-coincidentally pantone's colour of the year), this concept really lit a lightbulb within me creatively and personally. We live in a time where we're encouraged to try to be everything - to experience, to experiment, to educate and also to edit. Nothing is designed to be permanent - more a fluid 'project' where things are constantly written and re-written (Kanye's The Life Of Pablo as an excellent example of this.) In many ways, I feel like a millennial sore thumb - I've always been comfortable with familiarity, with pushing envelopes one prod at a time rather than the whole way. The things that scare me most are the things I know are difficult to maintain as permanent - life, health and love. Combined with an almost unhealthy level of perfectionism, it's the reason why it takes me so long to relax, to trust and to accept.
This goes some way to explain why it's taken me three full paragraphs to get around to distilling the reasons why I both love and am terrified by 'Somebody Else', the linchpin of The 1975's latest record. For the past four years, the most majestically positive force in my life is that of love. I'm extraordinarily lucky to know the joy of being safely nestled in a relationship that is overwhelming positive - supportive, encouraging, emotionally available, selfless even. I whole-heartedly believe that I've found my soulmate. To imagine being with a different person is to imagine sawing my own arm off 27-hours style, and yet I'm sure it's in all of our natures to have moments where you're so happy that you have to wonder when it's all going to go wrong, even if there is absolutely no evidence to suggest as such. Where you imagine the parallel universe in which they are in love with somebody your complete opposite. My pessimistic nature and the relationships I see under strain around me can't help but make me morbidly wonder what that would be like from time to time, and it's a feeling that makes me feel a little sick and wonky, like walking up the stairs in the dark and putting your foot down on a step that isn't there.
That's what this song sounds like to me - that sick squeezing feeling of ominousness, the fragility of the very act of tying your life so tightly to another human who has the power to leave at any time. Sure, the surface meaning is of being cheated on, left for another, but I also think it's about the part of yourself you have to leave behind when you devote such a huge part of your being to somebody else. When you have to ask yourself how much your own life would unravel if they were to leave, and what that says about your own happiness. Perhaps I'm getting carried away with the Tumblr-glitter of what is ultimately a very typical pop song, but there just seems to be something darker about those 80s-worthy synths. And it's those depths that have turned me into a 1975 convert - what was once a cheap meal ticket is now multi-sensory and gloriously, devastatingly addictive.