“It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” is one of the highlights of The 1975’s excellent new album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. Singer Matty Healy called the single, which references his struggles with addiction and recovery, “the 1975-iest 1975 song since The 1975 debut record.” But while the single is a throwback to The 1975’s classic uptempo, poppy sound, the “It’s Not Living” video takes inspiration from another innovative rock band.
The epic, seven-minute video, directed by Warren Fu, borrows visual cues from the 1984 Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense. The Jonathan Demme-directed concert film widely regarded as one of the best of that genre, a classic that makes a major turning point in how we visually represent music. Demme eschewed the typical behind-the-scenes documentary filler to simply film singer David Byrne and his band performing. The minimalist filmmaking allow the music to take the spotlight.
In the “It’s Not Living” video, Healy channels Byrne in baggy gray suit on a minimalist stage, dancing like a wild, long-limbed marionette doll with identical suited backup performers. It’s not just an empty tribute, though — there’s an element of uncanniness to the video that’s only implicit in the Talking Heads doc. Healy’s mouth disappears while he sings, his pants light on fire, and he steps outside to watch another version of himself dance in the street to “Sincerity Is Scary.” But Healy climbs back from all of this to return to being a rock icon, moving around the stage like a beautiful rock god weirdo. There might be a metaphor in here, but I’ll let the video speak for itself.
Watch The 1975’s video for “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” above.