In a 2012 interview with Elliot Mitchell of When the Gramophone Rings, The 1975 frontman Matt Healy said the band had a different approach to recording the album than to the EPs: "I think the best albums are ones where every track could be a potential single. Both our EP’s center around a lead track whilst showcasing a wider body of work, whereas we feel the album is lead track after lead track, with all the alternative moments captured in an accessible way." He also said that the album had been "five years in the making, formed through the many different incarnations of the band," and added that it is "drenched in our identity and it’s everything that we are. It does span a lot of genres and depth, but it’s still a coherent piece of work and everything that makes our band our band, personally I would say it’s an ambitious debut record."
On the album content, Healy said: "This recording process has been really fun, as we’ve had a lot of these songs for a while, and to record them in a completely different mindset with a completely different outlook has been really interesting. (...) There album isn’t a haberdashery of past singles and old stuff, it has been focused down into a collective piece of work. There’s tracks on there that people would have heard live, and older tracks that we’ve reworked. This album is a soundtrack to our formative years, so it would be dishonest to not put songs on there that we wrote when we were 21, as we want people to connect to it in the same way that we do." He described the musical style as "pretty experimental, and goes from glitchy R&B to big 80’s powerpop to mid 90’s soul, but it’s done in our way obviously."
The lead single from the album, a re-recorded version of the song "Sex", was scheduled to be released on 26 August 2013. The song premiered on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show on 8 July 2013 as his 'Hottest Record in the World'. A music video for the song was released onto YouTube on 26 July 2013. On 27 August 2013, the song "Settle Down" premiered on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show as part of his 'Album of the Week' segment, and on 29 August 2013 "Girls" became Lowe's 'Hottest Record'.
The 1975 received generally favourable reviews from contemporary music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 67, based on 16 reviews.
Ashley Clements of Gigwise called the album "Quite possibly the best indie LP of the year." Simon Butcher of Clash magazine rated the album 8/10 and wrote: "It’s a great pop record with plenty of depth (a rare thing) that will prove divisive. Some will dismiss this band in one listen (or none) as the next Owl City, but with years of playing together already, plenty of fans, and lots of songs ready to go, The 1975 will be one overnight success that’ll outlive the critics."
Dave Reynolds of Bearded magazine noticed similarities between the band's and Michael Jackson's story, and wrote that the "unmistakable '80s aesthetic" reflects a homage to Thriller. "A debut album with 16 tracks should never be able to capture and hold a listeners attention, but The 1975 make a damn good stab at it, with a record littered with pop hooks and imagination. MJ would be proud," he concluded.
Q defined The 1975 as "possibly the first band to take influence from The Thompson Twins, China Crisis and the long-lost Frazier Chorus." "That makes them sound gloriously out of kilter, but the truth is that their jittery genre-jumping is impossibly now," the magazine continued. "Best of all, for all their rarely lauded influence, this is a band who sound like nobody else right now. Hugely intriguing," concluded reviewer John Aizlewood, giving the album 3 out of 5 stars rating.
In addition to the standard version of the album, a double CD deluxe edition was also released, with the second disc containing the band's four EPs: Facedown, Sex, Music for Cars and IV. The iTunes deluxe edition contains additional remixes, making a total of 39 tracks.