Artist: The 1975
Album: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
Publication: The Ennui Project
Reviewed by: Brandon Birkner
Rating: ★★★★☆ — 4.5 stars
The 1975 aim for new heights on their third full length, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The band emerged with their debut album, The 1975, with infectious pop/rock and proved themselves to be distinguished songwriters on their sophomore release, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It. The band’s latest release gives the feeling of timelessness and puts a stamp on history as an innovative rumination of modern society.
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
The album begins with the lead singer, Matty Healy, sitting at the piano and playing soft chords over the first words in the band’s reprised intro track, “The 1975.” Suddenly, Healy’s voice chimes in with the familiar lyrics for their first two records’ intro tracks. This time, his voice is transformed with the vocoder effect which makes Healy’s voice sound like a hundred voices. This reinvention of the intro track provides a precursor for sonic themes to come.
“Give Yourself A Try” is the album’s lead single, an unapologetic sound with piercing guitars and self-reflective yet hopeful lyrics. “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” is the most pop-sounding song of the band’s career but includes honest lyrics about modern relationships. The track provides an easy sing-along chorus that will be sure to get all fans singing at shows. “How To Draw” was a bonus track on their sophomore album but is brought back to include the vocoder effect on Healy’s vocals and then swiftly transitions into “Petrichor,” a drum-loop leading electronic instrumental.
Love It If We Made It
“Love It If We Made It” has some of the most profound and impactful lyrics on the entire album. A reflection of modern society but also the modern individual delivers an introspective look of what it’s like living in 2018. “Be My Mistake” has a somber acoustic sound with soft piano notes in the background. The song is about loneliness and infidelity with heartfelt and earnest lyricism. “Sincerity Is Scary” is a very jazzy dance tune with self-reflective lyrics about how individuals in the modern day tend to mask being genuine with irony. Healy has referenced “I Love America & America Loves Me” as a homage to Soundcloud rappers. The track expresses how American youth feel in today’s society.
“The Man Who Married A Robot” is a poem read by the male version of Siri about how the internet can consume our lives and yet doesn’t keep us from feeling lonely. The Internet can provide the modern individual with small bits of happiness but will never deliver profound happiness in life. “Love Theme” is a beautiful instrumental laced with horns, strings, and the piano background from “The Man Who Married A Robot.” “Inside Your Mind” describes someone wanting to know what their partner is thinking so desperately that they fantasize about cracking open their partner’s head to see. A stadium rock-like tune, driven by piano and accompanying strings with a distorted lead guitar that fills up the chorus.
It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)
Earlier this year, Healy came forward as a recovering heroin addict after spending time in a rehab facility in Barbados. “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” chronicles the many drawbacks that come along with addiction. With a singularly catchy chorus, the instrumentation on the track is reminiscent of ’80s dance music. Therefore, Healy describes a level of dependent obsession with drugs that, without it, make life seem not worth living.
Healy writes about his time in rehab on “Surrounded By Heads and Bodies” and the only other patient at the facility, Angela. Over a lugubrious acoustic guitar, Healy sings about the woman wearing her depression like a dress. “Mine” is possibly the most drastic genre change on the album because it is an absolute jazz ballad. The song is a piano-driven love song about not feeling the need to get married and being content with just being with your partner. “I Couldn’t Be More In Love” is a slow ’80s-like tune with powerful vocals in the chorus backed by a full choir. This track contains some of Healy’s best vocals on the album and possibly of the band’s whole career.
I Always Want to Die (Sometimes)
The band closes their third album with “I Always Want to Die (Sometimes)” an epic final song that summarizes living in today’s constant online world. With acoustic guitars, strings, and a powerful chorus — the song sounds like a ’90s pop/rock anthem. The track includes one of the most powerful lyrics on the whole album. “But your death it won’t happen to you. It happens to your family and your friends.” The chorus of the track is ambitious with big guitars ripping with open chords. Healy passionately sings “I always wanna die sometimes” in a beautiful falsetto. He is explaining that when people are at their lowest points they often feel like they have always felt that low. Healy assures that this is a misconception and that sadness is only temporary.
With so many great lyrics, impressive instrumentation and thought-provoking ideas, the average listener might have to hear this album a few times before realizing the tremendous feat that is A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The 1975 have achieved a point in their career where they refuse to stay in their lane by creating a collection of genre-bending music. For that reason, they just might have crafted a timeless piece of art that is an affecting reflection of modern life in the 21st century.
‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ by The 1975 is available on all streaming services and at the1975store.com