The young Manchester band take their first major step towards great promises on their third EP.
Manchester’s the 1975 have been steadily dropping EPs during the past year and have already managed to establish their identity pretty clearly through them. Music for Cars, the third and latest in the series, doesn’t make any sort of grand break from its predecessors Facedown and Sex in this regard. Somewhere between a healthy dose of almost electronic, cinematic soundscapes and a more traditional band format lies a lot of potential for an exciting debut album. Where it does differ, however, is that this is the point where a group of unknowns are ready to take their first major step towards being recognized.
The chosen single “Chocolate” is a concrete example of this, albeit not the most ideal one considering how little resemblance it bears to the rest of the EP. Its airy bounciness, rapid-fire vocal hooks, and sharp, bright guitar notes are reminiscent of Foals at their most accessible, and it has already started to make a ripple in the public consciousness and climb up the UK charts. This could arguably be attributed to how unashamedly pop it is and how it has the sound of a surefire hit that will have the crowds bouncing at the summer festivals, but more importantly it’s also the 1975’s most accomplished song to date. The hook-driven direction has been pulled off with such a genuine feel-good spirit that you can’t help but enjoy it.
But while “Chocolate” is the EP’s obvious main attraction, it’s the EP’s other four tracks that are arguably more exciting as a glimpse into the band’s promising future. Unlike “Chocolate”, the other four songs take a far more atmospheric, electronic, and often even ambient approach. Such a direction isn’t new to the 1975, but here it feels far more confident and interesting than on previous EPs. “Anobrain” and “HNSCC” are highly evocative, cinematically grand ambient pieces with more than a little hint of M83 in them, “Head.Cars.Bending” is a well-executed piece of mid-tempo synthpop, and closer “Me” is a stylish combination of ambient soundscapes and wistful vocals, topped off with an unexpected but successfully executed '80s saxophone solo. All four are highly enjoyable and warrant repeated listens, even if they pale in comparison to the star power of “Chocolate”. But while “Chocolate” positively hogs the spotlight, it ends up feeling like the odd one out in this context: the electronic overtones feel like a better suit for the band overall and end up being the reason why you’d want to hear more from this band.
Regardless of whether you think the heart of Music for Cars is in its breakout star or in the electronic mood pieces surrounding it, the 1975’s third EP is also the one that really signals they’re here. The first two EPs had promise, but the five songs here fulfill it: it feels like it’s here that The 1975 finally show their cards and give the listener a reason to start paying attention to them. Whether they’ll continue on this upwards trajectory remains to be seen, but what’s certain is that Music for Cars is an interesting and most importantly a very good set of songs.