The 1975’s fourth album, Notes on a Conditional Form, is as long as a short film. Whether that gives you more reason to love or to hate The 1975 is between you and lead singer Matty Healy, but don’t deny: It’s what you’d expect from the band at this point. And right around halfway, at the 41st minute of the album, sits a song that captures everything worth loving (or loathing) about The 1975. “Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied” is Notes on a Conditional Form’s addendum to “Love It If We Made It,” another despondent anthem, this time held down by a gospel choir and … rapping?
The song opens as an angsty hymn, with Matty Healy and the choir singing, “Life feels like a lie, I need something to be true.” Healy has described Notes on a Conditional Form as the grand finale to the band’s “Music for Cars” era, which also includes 2018’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationship. Its go-for-broke spirit is how we end up with three verses of Matty Healy rapping. The band had previously triumphed with blaring punk rock, jazzy pop standards, and Oasis-size arena rock; elsewhere on Notes, they experiment with country rock and early ’10s jangle pop. Rap fan Healy shouted out Kanye West and Lil Peep on the zeitgeist-chronicling bridge to “Love It If We Made It,” the closest he’d previously come to rapping. Yet last album cycle, the otherwise unapologetic bandleader found himself apologizing for comments that blamed the music industry’s addiction problem on the “drug-taking competition” of SoundCloud rap. Healy told Apple Music that the new song wrestles with celebrity, claiming, “I don’t feel like a lot of people [his peers] stand by stuff.”
“I never fucked in a car, I was lyin’,” he admits. “I do it in my bed lyin’ down, not tryin’.” The opening bars of Healy’s rap (which is, yes, as singsong as you’d expect from a white British guy fronting a pop-rock band) are two of the band’s best lines about fame and burnout of the album’s whole 80 minutes. Healy may be a bonafide rock star now, but he’s too tired and bored to live the life we expect him to. He’s “never gettin’ sleep and forgettin’ to eat” — stars, they’re just like us! And he’s moved on to calling out targets on his level: “You don’t fuck with your poor fans,” he raps in a pitched-down voice. “You need the rich ones to expand your floor plans.”
The 1975 worked on Notes from mid-2018 to early 2020, but like many of the album’s eight singles (so far), “Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied” feels too prescient today. “I just talk about the things upsettin’ me,” Healy says. “And I get somewhere, I don’t like it.” Sure, the news was always inescapable, but now it’s inextricably tied to whatever connection we have left to the world. “Is there anybody out there?” Healy wonders in the chorus. It would’ve been cathartic to sing in a full arena regardless of circumstances; the fact that we can’t right now is more poetic than Healy could’ve planned.