It has been over two and a half years (1,015 days to be exact) since The 1975’s last album release, I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It. It feels as if the entire world has been waiting forever for their third studio album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships from Dirty Hit Records.
A few things about The 1975: they’re from Manchester, they’ve built a respectable cult following, and if they had a brand it would be not sticking to a brand. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships follows a handful of incredible singles (“TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME,” “Love It If We Made It,” “Sincerity Is Scary,” “Give Yourself A Try”) that hyped up the album release. That said, there has been an ongoing discussion on social media, blogs, and practically every group chat among the millennials about how good A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships actually is.
Like any album, there are people who love it, people who hate it, and some who are questioning the music. The cult following I mentioned (I’m not exaggerating), are the stans that will worship anything with The 1975 name. You know the type, they camp out for days to get front barricade at a show and run fan accounts on Twitter – that lot that won’t second-guess a thing the band does. The rest of us though, we’ve got some things to say, and I’ve narrowed it down to the two most touched-upon reactions to the album:
1 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is more cohesive (thus, superior) than the previous one.
2 – The singles should have been released as an EP, and the final album scrapped.
Let’s dive into the first one. The word “cohesive” has been thrown around like no other- but people don’t seem to be really explaining why they use that word, so I’ll give my own interpretation. The album is centered around the idea of millennial angst and going beyond the screen, with songs that touch on the usual heartbreak, loneliness, and of course, drug addiction. Sonically, it is a bit all over the place which I kind of like, but also kind of hate. Groovy jazz to piano-centered ballads, and auto-tuned pop to almost rap-like poetry. Did I mention there is a whole track where we don’t get Matty Healy’s voice but is a Siri-like robot that makes you feel extremely uncomfortable? Yeah… it’s hard to stack that up against the others sound-wise, yet no one is surprised it’s included. I don’t think albums should sound like one continuous song, but also…this record is just a lot to take in.
That brings us right into number two… why didn’t The 1975 just take the singles and make it an EP? A lot of listeners and long-time fans of the band are really torn between calling the album a masterpiece or just blah with an EP-amount of The 1975-worthy songs. The record doesn’t really have any stand-out tracks that weren’t released as singles, so it makes sense to just couple those up as a strong EP that is cohesive lyrically and sonically.
These standouts are the tracks that anyone who has previously listened to the band would deem as undeniably The 1975 and bring on the same feelings that albums one and two gave us in their own unique way. “Love It If We Made It” is one of those songs- it’s entirely made up of pop culture references, political snipes, and the odd sociological theory. I wouldn’t say that it’s too far fetched to call it an anthem of our time. That in itself makes up for the ones that play in the background without you noticing. Those all happen to be the slower songs which are good, but in comparison to other work, they may as well be deleted forever. I love this band, but nothing can match the ballads their first EP and album. Their “bops” are always much stronger than slow ones, and frankly, I’ll go listen to Bon Iver if I want an auto-tuned love song.
Overall, the album is definitely worth a listen. The 1975 have without a doubt progressed as musicians and changed with their music, and I’m curious to see if other fans and their taste in music has followed suit.
Watch a track-by-track explanation with Matty Healy (lead singer) here.
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is available on vinyl here