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Record Reappraisal: Music For Cars – The 1975

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Six long years ago in 2013, The 1975 dropped their third EP Music For Cars. The significance of this introduction to their sound, three LPs later, feels somewhat impossible to deny. The influence of the EP has extended far beyond its release, leading to the current era of the band’s aesthetic to be christened with the eponymous same name. 

Just like now, The 1975 matched the pop of what would become one of their best hits – Chocolate – with low melancholia and instrumentals. The EP opened with ‘Anobrain’, a short and layered introduction to the group’s ability to create entire stories in less than two minutes. Through the neologism of ‘Anobrain’, it feels evident that Healy’s songwriting has always been one of his biggest strengths. Even then, the careful intelligence of the lead singer thrummed gently beneath the surface in a tale of romance against a backdrop of teenage suburbia. Albeit, there was definitely an element of pretension – but this now gives the EP a perfect feeling of nostalgia. Soft, slippery synths move against vocals in a way that now feels familiar but then felt new and raw. As Healy’s vocals murmur “I’m so high, I think I love you”, there’s a heart-wrenching reminder of the struggle with substance abuse that continues to linger in the heart of their lyrics. 

Again, in Music For Cars we were introduced to The 1975’s unique ability to join genres in the transition of ‘Anobrain’ into hit ‘Chocolate’.  One of their first breakthrough songs, it was The 1975’s first real adventure into the world of catchy chart-toppers. Again but also differently, it was a song dedicated to small towns and wasting time with lawless behaviour – perfect for capturing the hearts of teenagers all around the country. ‘Chocolate’ might be grating these days but back in 2013 it felt anthem-like. 

Swiftly transitioning into ‘HNSCC’ and you can hear The 1975’s talent for instrumental pieces and the production that has never faded as a focus. A combination of guitar masked with soft vocals, synths, and electronics retells a loved one’s experience with cancer. The profoundness of The 1975 even back in 2013 is remarkable – of the entire EP, this is the track that feels most recent in its quality.

The final duo lie in the hazy space between ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Anobrain’. Penultimate ‘Heads.Cars.Bending’ feels much like the first self-titled album. Not as developed as their current music, six years later the track comes across as naïve in a manner similar to ‘Chocolate’. Despite this, the production is still remarkable, especially when considering the band’s professional recency in 2013. Upon initial listen and now, it is the last track that feels like the star player on this EP.

The deeply melancholic ‘Me’ shifts between the perspective of Healy and his father in a relatable tale of guilt and mental fragility – themes that carry all the way to ‘Ballad of Me And My Brain’ on I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it and ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ on A Brief Inquiry. The heavy remorse combined with a cry for help – “I was thinking about killing myself, don’t you mind?” – is as strikingly sad as it was on first listen. A song dripping with personal pain, The 1975 once more provide timeless relatability that other bands rarely manage to do in one song, let alone albums. Music For Cars is a classic EP that introduced the band’s incredible experimental musical ability. The soundtrack to so many teenage years already, the EP was a cohesive and beautiful body of work that provides the foreword for The 1975’s success.

Tags: music for cars ep, record reappraisal, the 1975

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