The song “Robbers” by the 1975, released on their third album self titled “The 1975” seemingly comes as a song of heartbreak from lead singer and band writer Matty Healy. The speaker is grappling with a broken romantic relationship. Through the use of a dysphoric tone, metaphor, and diction, the reader journeys back to a time when their hearts were torn over a romantic partner of their own.
A wistful tone is set from the very introduction of the poem and is steadily maintained until the final line. A wistful tone is one of sadness, yet also one of remembrance of good times and the longing to return to those times. This tone is quite evident in lines 5-8 “I’ll give you one more time / well give you one more fight / said one more lie / will I know you” (Healy, lines 5-8) . The speaker is undeniably trying to cope with the loss of a love he once so deeply connected with. Deep down within, the speaker knows that the love once present in the aforementioned relationship is no longer there, but on the outside, there is a struggle in coming to terms with moving on and letting go. This Wistful tone is further presented in lines 22-24 “ Now everybody’s dead / and they’re driving past my old school / he’s got his gun / he’s got his suit on“.(22-25). The death of “everybody” (22) paired with passing by “the school” (23) which the speaker refers to as his “old school” is symbolic of old memories. The speaker is reminiscing about a time when he was a young school boy and was potentially in love, not on the Brink of the end of a relationship.
Metaphor is an extremely powerful poetic device in this poem. It aids the speaker in conveying their wistful feelings, allowing the reader a deeper sense of imagination and understanding. Metaphor is visible in lines 1-4 “ She has a face straight outta magazine / God only knows but you’ll never leave her / her balaclava is starting to chafe/ and when she gets his gun he’s begging, babe stay, stay, stay , stay.” ( 1-4). While this poem has no relation to the literal criminal act of robbery, the use of gun and robbery references throughout, pose to show the breakdown of a romance. The magazine, gun, and balaclava discussed are all pieces of equipment typically used when committing a robbery.
However, in the poem, the speaker gives these terms double meanings and uses them as a way to describe the cessation of the aforementioned relationship. The relation of a metaphoric robbery with a shattered love is further used in lines 18-21 “well now that you’ve got your gun / it’s much harder now the police have come / now I’ll shoot him if it’d what you ask/ but if you just take of your mask / you’ll find out everything’s gone wrong (18-21) The use of the gun, the shooting, and the police coming are all symbolic of the two parties in the relationship “robbing” each other of the bliss they deserve. A robbery when involving a gun is a deadly crime, leaving a man killed. The act of killing a man is permanent. When somebody dies they can not come alive again.
This can be used to exaggerate that this relationship holds so much weight in the speakers life that the speaker is not willing to completely come to terms with its end, instead, holding on to it and allowing the pain to continue. The police arriving at the scene fully serves to put a close to the relationship. When the police arrive to the scene of a crime they are going to legally investigate and there is no way to get around the legal process as the speaker has been getting around finality up until this point.
Repetition is used in this song to further emphasize the wistful tone. When repeating lines, the speaker allows the reader to decipher them as lines of importance. The speaker uses repetition in lines 4 and 12 “ and when she gets his gun he’s begging, “babe stay, stay, stay stay, stay.” (4).
these lines both in different parts of the song, repeat the word “stay” five times as conclusions to their stanzas. In these lines first the male partner attempts cutting off the relationship and then the female partner attempts doing the same. however, in both cases the opposite partner always begs their lover to stay. Stay being repeated five times puts emphasis on the need for the love to continue and not end. Almost as if in desperation for the continuation of even a broken love, as long as it’s still not over.
The song “Robbers” by The 1975 is one which can be relatable to many, With themes of love, loss, heartbreak and inner turmoil. The use of metaphors and repetition serve to present the reader with deeper meaning and reference to the feelings every human has experienced when ending a love which has held significance in their own lives. In describing one relationship, the song allows many to feel connected and nostalgic of their past loves just as the speaker feels of his.