Sex, the second EP from the Manchester, UK, group The 1975, takes a little while to get off. The first two songs are pleasant but nondescript daubs of ambient electronic music – gauzy layers of synthetic sound wrapping up frontman Matty’s pleading vocals; they drift along sleepily, never pausing at anything that looks much like a chorus or a hook. And just when you’re wondering if we really, truly need another bedroom synth band, the title track arrives, and it’s as if the sheepish local opener spontaneously rip off their masks and reveal themselves to be Jimmy Eat World circa Bleed American – which, if for some reason you need to ask, is a very good thing.
Thematically, the 1975 obsess over the Universal Questions of adolescence – chiefly, not getting laid enough and getting laid way too much. The former is the subject of “Sex,” a full-boil three-minute case of pent-up, jean-bursting frustration where the angel on the protagonist’s shoulder keeps yelling, “She’s got a boyfriend, anyway,” while the devil coolly assures him that this is no one’s idea of a deal-breaker. The next song, the gently-spiraling “You,” is almost the spiritual sequel, with Matty defensively insisting, “It’s not my fault I’ve fucked everybody here” as he and his date fumble their way through a loose tangle of silvery guitars. The album-closing “Milk” blends the snowy synths of the EPs first two songs with the throb and thrash of the middle two, building to the kind of needy crescendo that characterizes the best Frightened Rabbit songs. Its hook, of course, is “She’s doing it all the time.”
All of this would be awfully caddish except that the 1975 manage to convincingly sell meaningless sex as true romance, investing their pants-pawing basement makeouts with deep meaning and dogged determination. They are the Ben Gibbard of the dry hump. If there is any drawback to Sex, it’s that it wastes its first six minutes idling before finally delivering a tidy batch of perfect guitar pop. The 1975 belong to a rare group of young men: the kind who spend too much time on foreplay.