The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
Review by Shannon Shumaker
The 1975 are unafraid to charge headfirst into the unknown on their vulnerable third full-length album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. Following vocalist Matty Healy’s semi-public battle and recovery from heroin addiction and two smash albums (2013’s self-titled debut and 2016’s I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It) there was absolutely no telling what A Brief Inquiry and the band’s self-dubbed “Music For Cars” era would sound like, but this album is the perfect soundtrack. Swapping the catchy guitar hooks and retro pop bangers on I Like It When You Sleep… for acoustic guitar, auto-tuned vocals and even a track narrated by Siri, The 1975 have not only stepped out of their own comfort zone on this release, but they’ve also forged a sound and movement for other artists to follow.
Sonically, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is nowhere near The 1975’s previous work (save for energetic tracks like “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” and “Love It If We Made It”) but don’t let that alienate you from this release. Although there might not be as many catchy as hell sing-along moments as there are on their self-titled release or even I Like It When You Sleep…, these songs are personal, emotional and experimental - something that fans have come to expect and appreciate from the band. The best part? As A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships continues forward, it almost feels like taking a walk through music history. The album kicks off with the band’s signature sound with “Give Yourself A Try” and “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” but things quickly evolve into the stark dance-inspired track, “How To Draw / Petrichor” the acoustic “Be My Mistake” and neo-jazz “Sincerity Is Scary.”
The 1975 don’t shy away from modern music trends and even touch on soundcloud rap with “I Like America & America Likes Me” but they don’t forget those that came before them, either. The traditional jazz song, “Mine” begins to round out the album, followed by 80’s influenced ballad “I Couldn’t Be More In Love” and the massive “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” which feels like a nod to the late 90’s and early 2000’s and even includes strings by David Campbell, who did the strings for “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls. The simplistic acoustic tracks on A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships would threaten to feel safe it they were coming from any other band, but for The 1975, these songs are vulnerable glimpses into Healy’s mind. By stripping away massive guitar hooks and catchy bass riffs, the band strips themselves to the core on songs like “Be My Mistake” and “Surrounded By Heads And Bodies,” two of the most powerful songs on the album.
It would be a crime to discuss A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships without mentioning the introspective and incredibly vulnerable lyrical content as well. Fans have already become familiar with the powerful political anthem “Love It If We Made It” and the hopeful “Give Yourself A Try,” which promises listeners that it’s okay to not be okay, but some of the more moving songs are the ones that die-hard fans will be hearing for the first time on this release. The sparse “Be My Mistake” finds Healy struggling with guilt while “Surrounded By Heads And Bodies” touches on his time in rehab in a beautifully poetic and vulnerable way. Healy’s strongest vocal performance and most personal lyrics are found on “I Couldn’t Be More In Love,” which arrives just before the soon to be anthem “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes).” Then, of course, there’s the Siri-narrated track, “The Man Who Married A Robot / Love Theme”, which perfectly summarizes the album’s theme’s of vulnerability, self-love and connection.
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships isn’t your typical 1975 album, but that’s what makes it so groundbreaking. Although each song on the album sounds completely different, it never once feels choppy or disconnected. With each release, The 1975 have pushed the boundaries of their sound and managed to connect with their listeners, and A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships does that more than ever before. The vulnerable lyrical content of the album coupled with fearless songwriting finds The 1975 more on top of their game than ever and ready to take the world by storm… again.
LISTEN TO: “Be My Mistake” “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)”
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