The 1975 get gritty and meta on funky new single ‘Sincerity Is Scary': Listen
The 1975's ironic lyricism, the 'callout culture' of the internet and heroin addiction are some of the topics masterfully addressed in the new self-aware single.
For those unfamiliar with indie pop's most promising act of the decade The 1975, it wouldn't be too hard to find the band, especially frontman Matt Healy's lyricism slightly obnoxious. From tightly packed wordplay to highly self-referential, ironic lines that leave you scratching your head, The 1975 are no strangers to being provocateurs, and they clearly don't mind being so. But ardent fans who 'get it' will swear by the band's intentions. In fact, it's part of the band's appeal.
Some of the band's lyricism might get lost in the glossy wrapper of the ear candy that the band doles out, best exemplified on their cumbersomely titled sophomore 2017 effort 'I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Blissful Yet So Unaware Of It.' But those who do pay adequate attention to the lyrics and are not in on the ironic humor that forms the basis for the words could be left in mild discomfort.
That is exactly what Healy and the gang address on their latest single 'Sincerity Is Scary,' which dropped last week. The confidently self-aware single is the fourth peek from their upcoming album 'A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships,' which is due out on November 30 via Polydor. It follows the other three singles from the album, 'Give Yourself A Try,' 'Love It If We Made It,' and 'TooTimeTooTimeTooTime.'
Healy is his own toughest critic on 'Sincerity Is Scary.' He takes a critical look at one’s tendencies to put up a facade out of insecurity and anxiety, with the realization that this type of illusory behavior will tend to breed confusion and conflict in a relationship with others. He lets his guard down deconstructs his own approach as he opens with the line "And irony is okay, I suppose, culture is to blame / You try and mask your pain in the most postmodern way."
“You lack substance when you say something like, ‘Oh what a shame’/It’s just a self-referential way that stops you having to be human," he explains. Hardcore fans will notice the reference to the fatalistic phrase 'Oh what a shame,' a motif that appears very often in The 1975’s songs ('Paris,' 'The Ballad of Me and My Brain,' and 'Love Me.') The phrase was seen scrawled across Healy's stomach in crude black ink during live shows and festival appearances. Healy is now wiser and is comfortable with critiquing his own previous work.
In an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music's Beats 1 Radio, Healy said of the song: "‘Sincerity Is Scary’ is about me trying to denounce all of that postmodern fear of like being real, you know? Like irony first, irony first. Make sure you’re ironic because then you can’t be judged on being a person."
"And I’ve become so aware of the stick that exists within my kind of lyrical narrative, as well, because obviously, I love everything that I’ve done previously, but now as I got older I see these kinds of defense mechanisms whether they be jokes or being slightly sardonic, or like he is the big emotional bit of the song, but I’m not going to be really emotional," he further elaborated.
"All those kind of things. I think on this record it’s slightly more, it’s just a bit more open, and a bit easier, and genuinely sincere."
Healy also gets into a deeply confessional mood as he addresses his heroin addiction on the line "I'm assuming you'll balloon when you remove the dirty spoon." Healy has admitted to having a four-year heroin addiction that continued as the band began work on 'A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships' in 2017. He later went to rehab in Barbados for seven weeks during November and December of 2017 before resuming work on the album. Interestingly, he also made a reference to the heroin addiction on the second single from the album, 'Love It If We Made It,' in which he sings: "We're f**king in a car, shooting heroin / Saying controversial things just for the hell of it."
Many of Healy's lyrics contain superficially sexist descriptions of women that may seem offensive if the listener isn’t in on the irony, and he has made remarks in the past that some decried as being sexist. A fair number of The 1975's songs have generalized girls, best exemplified on the debut self-titled album track 'Girls.' Matty explicitly acknowledges this with the line "I'm sure that you're not just another girl / I'm sure that you're gonna say that I was sexist."
He also touches upon the "callout culture" of the Internet. "Instead of calling me out, you should be pulling me in," Healy sings in the chorus, possibly suggesting that the times could be less toxic if instead of lashing out and demonizing people when they say or do something unpopular, we were to bring them closer and explain why their actions were wrong.
Beyond the lyricism which makes Healy and the boys come across as the poster-children for post-modernism, 'Sincerity Is Scary' is a feel-good number that begins with slow, heavy drums accompanied by a pair of soulful-sounding saxophones that lead into Matt Healy’s smooth vocals on the song. The single has a funk-heavy feel which sets it apart from the previous singles, and the chorus even has an almost gospel-like touch to it, perfectly complementing Matty’s emotionally charged lyrics.
Listen to the new single below. 'A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships' drops November 30. For a quick run-up of everything we know about the album so far and what to expect, click here.