The 1975 pull back on latest release


Photo courtesy of Begoña on Flickr

Thomas Tedesco, Music Writer

A couple of months removed from their last single, The 1975 are back with yet another song that sounds distinctly different than the last. When the band released their previous single, “People,” it was met with controversy and seen by many as a 180-degree turn in musical direction. With their newest single, “Frail State of Mind,” it can be seen as going back about 90 degrees with their sound. While the song is largely still a departure, there are still elements in the song that can be found in some of their previous work. 

Unlike the blatant and alarming intro that “People” had, “Frail State of Mind” fades in with the vocal not fully coming in until nearly a minute into the song. The vocal delivery and melody are very similar to their song “TooTimeTooTimeTooTime” from their previous album, “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships.” The musical content of the song has prominent jazz influences and is stylistically similar to another one of their songs, “Sincerity Is Scary” from the same album. The song starts with the foundation of keyboards and programming, with the drums coming in on top of that. The sporadic and syncopated beat gives the song a rather shaky and insecure foundation.

In an interview with Dazed, Matt Healy described the theme and content of the song’s lyrics, “It is a UK garage, sad, burial kind of thing about social anxiety, you know, going out. I’m better at it happening, (at) me and you [reporter] sitting down and having a conversation, than thinking about going to do the conversion. The social event’s normally always fine, but the build-up to it, I hate it.”

Throughout the song, Healy builds upon the insecurity with the lyrics. He gives his insights on the anxiety that causes him to dread events in hopes that his audience can connect to it. The verses primarily detail the things he will not do with his frail mental state such as going outside or calling others in the first verse, along with staying home and pushing others away in the subsequent verses.

In the chorus, Healy is trying to give the universal reason for all of these actions (or lack thereof) with the lines, “I’m sorry, but I/ I always get this way sometimes/ Oh I’ll just leave/ I’ll save you time/ I’m sorry ‘bout my frail state of mind.”

While the song has the lyrical depth that is typical for The 1975, that is perhaps the only thing the song has going for it. Even though the fidgety beat may play along with the insecure feelings conveyed in the song, it essentially kills the flow and makes for a difficult listen. The listener would have to listen very closely beyond the keyboards and off beats to be able to actually hear and understand the lyrics considering they are rather low in the mix, along with Matt Healy’s poor diction when he sings.

“Frail State of Mind” may not be a drastic stylistic shift for the band like “People” was, but it still shows that the band is still significantly lacking cohesion in their sound. Whether it is an artistic expression or by design, this provides more questions than answers for the band’s sound moving forward on their upcoming album “Notes on a Conditional Form”. One question that is answered, however, is that the band is even further distancing themselves from the type of music that initially got them the recognition and fame that they have achieved. If “People” was the song that was supposed to wake up the audience, they follow it with a song in “Frail State of Mind” that quickly puts them back to sleep.