The 1975: “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)”
review by ava butera
As The 1975 have been overhyping their much-anticipated third effort since they ended the I Like It When You Sleep era, I’ve been quite underwhelmed with the amount of sub par singles the band has released since the beginning of the summer. But hear me out.
To give a bit of perspective to my last statement, I’ve been following this band since their crossover into American music. I was infatuated with the melodies within and the lyricism Matty Healy showcased on their self-titled album; I still regard songs on that record as some of my favorites of all time. Their sophomore album had me awestruck from the moment I heard the first single, “Love Me”, and then ultimately the entire record. The band truly eradicated the term ‘sophomore slump’ from the minds of fans, critics, and casual listeners alike with how superb the album turned out to be. Hit after hit and ballad after ballad, I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It made a name for itself within the music community, as did the band who were not long before playing 800 capacity venues and opening for bands whom they surpassed in regards to notoriety and success. The band who I cherished as my own secret since I was in middle school, the first band I ever got into that wasn’t one who played on Top 40 Radio, I was proud of their sudden popularity. I was so proud that I flew from Miami (my hometown and where I was living at the time) to New York City alone -- as a high school sophomore -- to witness their final show of the ILIWYS era, and at Madison Square Garden, no less.
You could probably understand my disappointment when I first heard the first single for the upcoming album, “Give Yourself a Try.” It was brash and unlike anything the band had shown prior. Again, all listeners have the right to their own opinions, the song just didn’t do it for me. Sure, The 1975’s second album was quite drastic from their first, but both possessed qualities that made them wholesome records in their own way. I listened to it a few more times, trying to find a positive aspect to the track, however I couldn’t seem to find one. The next three songs to be released from A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships were not as bad, but still didn’t live up the band’s past work. The term ‘third album slump’, definitely not as catchy, began to pop into my head. Was one of the most promising bands going to let me down this far into their career?
However, as I stepped out of work on a moderately chilly fall day in Chicago, I pressed play on the band’s new song, “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” curious to see what my once-favorite band had up their sleeve before the pending release of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The 1975 had already released four singles, each sounding very different from the last. To say that I was blown away by the fifth single is a complete understatement. At first, I felt like I was hearing something wrong, which just led me to replay the song five more times before finally deciding that I loved “Its Not Living (If It’s Not With You)”.
It instantly took me back to a song straight out of the 1980’s, maybe something on a John Hughes movie soundtrack. Again, this is surely unlike anything The 1975 has ever done or released previously, but it works to their advantage. The chorus is absolutely insane; each time I listen, Healy’s vocals come across as refreshing and as if I’ve heard them for the first time. This song is infectious and definitely a banger.
Now, I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships on November 30th and you will definitely catch me front row at The 1975’s stop in Chicago at the United Center!!!