For a band known to shun collaborations and features with other artists in their albums, it came as a jolt to fans when The 1975 released a collab with the Swedish activist and ‘Next Generation Leader’ Greta Thunberg.
In the six-minute track, titled simply The 1975, we hear the 16-year-old Thunberg announce that we are in the “beginning of a climate and ecological crisis.” A statement that rises above the ambient instrumental. Her tempo measured and deliberate. Here, her voice doesn’t crinkle or fry, as most young teenage voices are wont to do, but instead hers reverberates with a clear intention. I listen to it way too many times and still find myself nodding when she says now is the time to speak clearly.
Notes on a Conditional Form is the second album in the band’s Music For Cars series, which began with “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships” in late 2018. The self-titled opening track (like most The 1975 album openers) is the first teaser to the forthcoming album. All proceeds from the track will go to Extinction Rebellion, an environmental group chosen by Thunberg herself.
For a band whose fan base mostly consists of millennials and generation Z-ers, the collaboration might have seemed far out at first: Here was a band who imprinted in our hearts the appeal of dressing in black from head to toe (to Anna Wintour’s dismay), clumsy wine-drunk dancing; who filled stadiums singing about not being able to quit smoking and chafing balaclavas — to a band calling us all out for using the green straw at Starbucks for our frappuccinos.
And we can’t do anything about it. We hate it, because they’re right. Greta, Matty, Adam, Ross, George — absolutely correct. We are in a climate emergency.
Even if this is met with memes about the apparent disconnect between calling for proactive action during an “ecological crisis” when the band still has to continue touring for I Like It When You Sleep. Tour = using airplanes. Using airplanes = contributing to the world’s daily usage of 100 million barrels of oil, as Greta so explicitly cites in the track.
Jamie Oborne, the band’s manager, said in an interview with The Guardian that these are only little measures to minimize their environmental impact. Soon, they will no longer use single-use plastic products for CD encasings, as well as make their vinyl lightweight to minimize the use of plastic.
As a fan, I’m excited for the direction they are taking. The band always adapts and grows — just listen to their discography! Rest assured, though, that even though we 1975 fans who’ve amassed a fair amount of black t-shirts as our uniform consider ourselves unlike the rest, it’s highly likely that a “normie” would one day find this new track enlightening as they shuffle play on Spotify. In algorithm we trust.
And also in Greta’s young, straightforward 16-year-old voice to float to us through the ambient track, telling us that tolerating a world of gray areas all the time is wrong, that the past generation has failed — more than goosebumps, a collective action that shoves us all out of the door. To rebel. Maybe we can use our hands in our spare time!