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What does "Frail State of Mind" by The 1975 mean?

What does "Frail State of Mind" by The 1975 mean?

Lyrics Meaning of "Frail State of Mind" by The 1975

The 1975 is teasing the public with tracks on their upcoming fourth studio album, Notes On a Conditional Form, which will release in February 2020. The band debuted “Frail State of Mind” on October 24th. This is the third track the band released from their new record. “Frail State of Mind” is a realistic, first-person perspective of social anxiety: how it affects relationships, experiences, and mundane activities in a person’s daily life.

"I’m sorry that I missed your call, I watched it ring"

The song is written in a series of stanzas rather than traditional verses and repeating chorus. This writing style allows the artist to communicate the message in a “flow of consciousness” style instead of returning to a repeated chorus after each verse. “Flow of consciousness” means that the artist writes in style that resembles a continuous line of thought rather than a structured, predictable format. This is likely an artistic choice to communicate the feelings and ideas that actively run though a person’s mind during a particularly strong bout of social anxiety.

Verse 1

Go outside?
Seems unlikely
I’m sorry that I missed your call
I watched it ring
“Don’t waste their time”
I’ve always got a frail state of mind

The song begins with a matter-of-fact proposition — going outside — and the matter-of-fact response of a socially anxious person: “seems unlikely.” When struggling with social anxiety, simple tasks like going outside and answering a phone call seem impossible. When the phone rings, victims of social anxiety would rather listen to the phone ring and ring and ring than answer it. The narrator of this song does just that and confesses, “I watched it ring.” These struggles are not chalked up to laziness or lack of motivation; they have underlying internal dialogue. The dialogue hiding beneath this action is “don’t waste their time.” He is subconsciously more concerned about wasting the time of the person on the phone than he is about the consequences of not answering the phone call at all.

Oh, boy, don’t cry
I’m sorry, but I,
I always get this way sometimes
Oh, I’ll just leave
I’ll save you time
I’m sorry ‘bout my frail state of mind

Another effect of social anxiety: profound and occasionally uncontrollable waves of emotion. Here, the narrator experiences one of these “emotion attacks.” The following lyrics, “I’m sorry, but I // I always get this way sometimes,” shine a light on a few additional effects of social anxiety: the compulsive need to apologize for basic elements of human existence (“I’m sorry”) and the unrelenting conflict of thoughts (“I always get this way sometimes”). Finally, the narrator decides that instead of enduring these conflicting thoughts, he would rather just leave and remove himself from the situation altogether to relieve himself from these conflicting thoughts. After all, leaving will save him from having to explain his struggle. Again, he apologizes for his “Frail State of Mind” because, to him, his mental state is inconvenient for his peers.

Verse 2

Stay at mine
You might just like it
Might stop you being miserable
“Nah, I’m alright
Nah trust, I’m fine”
Just dealing with a frail state of mind

Following a pseudo-chorus of of soft synth-beats, the second section of lyrics gives additional perspective of social anxiety in other situations. When invited to spend the night with someone else, the narrator declines. This person could be a lover, friend, or family member. No matter who it is, the narrator decides that he would rather mask his struggles with dishonest assurances (“Nah, I’m alright // Nah trust, I’m fine”) than pose an inconvenience to someone else, even if they offer the option themselves.

Oh don’t be shy
I’m sorry, but I,
I always get this way sometimes
You lot just leave
I’ll stay behind
I’m sorry ‘bout my frail state of mind

“Don’t be shy” could be another example of underlying internal dialogue (the narrator speaking to himself) and internal conflicting thought. It could also be someone else talking to the narrator, failing to notice that his behavior is not chalked up to “shyness,” but it’s an effect of his social anxiety. Again, the narrator apologizes for the effects of his social anxiety. In this situation, he is with a group a friends and tells them to continue on their activities without him. He is wrapped up in his own perception of how his anxiousness is dragging down the energy of the group he is with. The compulsive need to apologize for his existence returns.

Verse 3

Oh, what’s the vibe?
I wouldn’t know I,
I’m normally in bed at this time
You guys go do your thing
And I’ll just leave at nine
Don’t wanna bore you with my frail state of mind

The phrase “What’s the vibe?” is used to ask what the mood is for the night. It’s usually used to determine what activities a social group is going join in next. When out with friends, the narrator doesn’t know what the vibe is, likely because he’s too busy caught in his own head and the perception of his presence in the group. Because he is too busy thinking about his own presence, he is not able to engage his friends and enjoy the moment. He confesses, “I’m normally in bed at this time.” Like the last situation, he tells his friends to continue on the night without him. He feels that he bores those around him because of his fragile state of mind.

“Oh winner winner!
That’s your biggest lie!”
I’m sure that you’re ‘fine’
I haven’t told a lie in quite some time
“You know we’ll leave
If you keep lying
Don’t lie behind your frail state of mind”

Here, the narrator shares a few responses he’s heard when he opens up and tells people about the effects of his social anxiety. They tell him he’s lying, and that they’re sure he’s “fine.” He says, in fact, that he hasn’t told a lie about how he’s feeling in quite awhile. They continue to ignore his confessions and say: “You know we’ll leave // If you keep lying // Don’t lie behind your frail state of mind.” They would rather ignore his thoughts and feelings than address them. Often times, mental struggles make people uncomfortable and they would rather pretend they don’t exist than address them openly.

Deeper Meaning of "Frail State of Mind" by The 1975

Sadly, our culture still has some work to do when addressing mental health and anxiety of all kinds; however, it is assuring to know that more bands like The 1975 are embracing these subjects and de-stigmatizing them in popular culture to create a healthier space for mental health and anxiety in the future. This song is a well-written exposé of mental health and anxiety that shines a bit of light on the effects its victims battle daily. It allows those who do not share these struggles to understand the realities of people who do, which in turn promotes empathy… and this world could always use a little bit more of that.

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