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The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Nov 30, 2018.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    As I sit here looking at a blank page, pondering about I’m going to approach writing about The 1975’s gargantuan third album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, I turn to my dear friend procrastination and flick open Twitter on my iPhone. After a few minutes of scrolling through an endless timeline, disgusted and amused simultaneously, I had the belated (and probably way too obvious) realization that A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is an exploration of our codependency of the things – whether it’s drugs, sex, the internet – we use to temporarily numb the sting of loneliness.

    Much has been written about The 1975’s leader Matty Healy decision to spend six weeks in a rehab facility in Barbados to fight his addiction to heroin – a stint that helped Healy reflect not only on his life, but the lives he was affecting. His decision to get clean came shortly after the band started writing A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, so unsurprising a lot of the lyrical content is derived from the recovering addict’s time spent in therapy.

    Healy isn’t interested in glamorizing the bleak reality of living with a heroin addiction. In fact, the upbeat 80’s tinged “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” is Healy’s recollection of his struggles to kick the habit – he’s hiding in plain sight about it, disguising it within the neon sheen of the song’s musicianship. And then there’s the subdued ballad “Surrounded By Heads And Bodies,” conjuring the spirit of In Rainbows as Healy recalls his time in rehab spent with a women named Angela – staying at a distance due to how personal these journeys are but also revealing that he sees “her in my sleep.”

    But it’s when the personal and political collide that A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships really takes off. Released in late July, “Love It If We Made It” serves as the album’s de facto lead single. Interspersing his personal demons with the everyday terrors that headline the nightly news, “Love It If We Made It” is a pop music exorcism bursting with punk rock ethos. The track is the defining single of 2018, as Healy gives an impassioned vocal performance chronicling the world’s shared misery over bombastic industrial noise – it’s a foreboding warning and desperate hope wrapped into one (“Modernity has failed us/and I’d love it if we made it”).

    Produced by Healy and drummer George Daniel, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is the most focused and dynamic The 1975 have ever been. Cinematic in scope, the record’s genre-hopping is limitless, effortlessly moving between different acts. There are plenty of breathtaking moments throughout the album, most notably the spastic “How To Draw / Petrichor” and the intoxicating slow jam R&B of “I Like America & America Likes Me,” with both tracks featuring Healy’s voice heavily filtered through autotune, operating as another instrument and channeling his inner Justin Vernon. But the real strength of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is the realization that the instrumentation doesn’t necessarily have to be in the forefront to make the biggest impact, as the jittery energy on “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” or the intense slow burn of piano ballad “Inside Your Mind” prove. The 1975 are masters of controlling the room even when the music is sparse, utilizing any and every sound without being overbearing.

    The crux of the record, however, appears a little more than the halfway point and doesn’t feature Healy at all. “The Man Who Married A Robot / Love Theme” is a foreboding account narrated by the male version of Siri. A modern twist on Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier,” the off-kilter piano plunks underscore the sad reality presented throughout its three and a half minutes. Initially jarring, it’s one of the most important facets of the record, as the final third of the record showcases the importance of trying to step outside that online codependency. Becoming untethered is easier said than done, but Healy attempts to do just that on a number of tracks. The airy neo-jazz of “Sincerity Is Scary” is a declaration against the antipathy of emotional expression, while the smooth Clapton-esqueof “I Couldn’t Be More In Love” is an exploration of Healy’s feelings if or when people stop caring about his band. But it’s these moments amongst many that make Healy and The 1975 so endearing – the most self-assured rock star we’ve had in some time continues to be completely unafraid of sharing the most vulnerable, even embarrassing moments of his life.

    “My favorite records are about life,” Healy told Beats 1 host Matt Wilkinson. “I like the all-encompassing aspect of life: you can have these bits, the sad bits, but don’t leave the dancing out, you know what I mean?” And it’s that life-affirming viewpoint that sparks the beginning and end of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. “Give Yourself A Try” is a furious post-punk burst that encourages to listener to ignore the outside noise and appreciate that your existence is a unique one, while closer “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” is a career-defining moment in the band’s discography, an immense encapsulation of the band’s past, present, and future. Lead guitarist Adam Hann creates resounding ambiance interweaving the best of Britpop with the dramatic flair that exemplifies The 1975, all while simmering strings swell underneath Healy’s angelic crooning. It’s the type of song that’ll be closing every 1975 show for the next decade, an instant classic if there ever was one.

    The 1975 possesses a rare aura that translates seamlessly from record to stage, and these fifteen captivating tracks won’t be any different. If 2016’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it was a band changing the narrative surrounding them, then A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is The 1975 creating the narrative, releasing five singles during the album’s six month buildup, each one dominating conversation and continually building anticipation. The 1975 can still be interpreted as pretentious (they announced this record with a 20+ page manifesto for Christ’s sake), but they are so keenly self-aware of their surroundings that they walk a remarkable tightrope between pretension and endearment. And with such flawless execution, The 1975 have captured the zeitgeist of this particular era of popular music, as A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships will be seen as this decade’s defining record, cementing The 1975 as the most important band of our time. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships can be dissected in many ways, and I think that’s the point of this whole experience. The complexities of life – especially one that lives online – can’t just be boiled down to one arbitrary thing and Healy isn’t naive enough to think that way. But his words offer hope to those who’ve been through hell or are currently going through the toughest instances of their lives. And for that, he offers a simple yet unflinching overture: “If you can’t survive, just try.”

    disambigujason, Mary V, Tyler and 3 others like this.
  2. sawhney[rusted]2

    I'll write you into all of my songs Supporter

    Absolutely perfect.
  3. jlinitz

    John Linitz @jlinitz Supporter

    Damnit, Drew. I'm all choked up at work.

    Great review :clap:
  4. somethingwitty Nov 30, 2018
    (Last edited: Nov 30, 2018)


    The highs are high (I Always Wanna Die is probably the best Britpop song that Blur never wrote)...but there's some of it that sounds like a second rate 22 A Million.

    It's Not Living is probably my favorite single of the year and Love It If We Made It will be a monster live.

    The Man Who Married A Robot/Love Theme is literally an updated version of Radiohead's "Fitter Happier" and it slightly bothers me. The record is great but much like how the last record borrowed a lot from INXS, this album borrows a lot from Bon Iver/Radiohead. I'm still waiting for that album where they create a sound all their own.

    Most of their fan base was in diapers or not even born for OK Computer, much like with Kick from INXS, so it's cool that they where their influences on their sleeve. Hopefully it'll inspire those fans to dig into the artists that shaped the current sound of The 1975.
    ScutFarkus likes this.
  5. y2jayjk

    Trusted Prestigious

    hell yeah
  6. DeRRek


    Very well written review @Drew Beringer. One of my favourite things about this album is that it is actually worthy of being called an “album”. I really struggle to even consider 10 songs as a full album. Haha. I feel 12 tracks is perfect but with how stupidly good these tracks are, 15 doesn’t even seem like overdoing it. There’s no filler here imo. Think love it if we made it is still my early favourite. Just love it from start to finish. I was actually gutted when I heard they were changing the album title from “music for cars” to “a brief inquiry into online relationships” but now having listened to the album in full I get it. However I still think “music for cars” is a better title. That’d probably be the only flaw I could think of for this album and it’s not even a reasonable one, haha. Well done again on a great review. Now give us that architects review I’ve been patiently waiting for please. At least before I see them in January.
    heymattrick and sawhney[rusted]2 like this.
  7. Excellent review!
    Drew Beringer likes this.
  8. Drew Beringer

    @drewberinger Moderator

    Haha thank you!
    DeRRek and Jason Tate like this.
  9. disambigujason

    Trusted Supporter

    This album is my first as a 1975 fan, and the review nails why, especially the part about LIIWMI.
    Mary V and Jason Tate like this.
  10. sebastianrcgr


    that closer... just wow
    angrycandy likes this.
  11. Spenny Dec 2, 2018
    (Last edited: Dec 2, 2018)


    Great review Drew. There's probably four or five songs on here that could legitimately number in my Top 10 tracks of the year, with a few even making a claim for Top 10 songs of the decade (namely Love It If We Made It, It's Not Living & I Always Wanna Die).

    As a whole piece, though, there's some stuff I struggle with. Lots of people seem to hype up How to Draw/Petrichor and Mine but neither does much for me. The one-two of I Like America and The Man Who Married a Robot works okay in the context of the album but I would never probably listen to either again unless in the full album context. Then again, I've listened to the pre-release singles hundreds of times each and only the full album three times so far, so much more listening to be done and I think it will all eventually click with me.

    EDIT: Going through my fourth listen and How to Draw/Petrichor just clicked with me finally. I spoke too soon!
    smowashere and sawhney[rusted]2 like this.
  12. currytheword


    I found this album to be a mess. I like about 3-4 songs. :shrug:
    Pepetito and Buscemi knows best like this.
  13. Analog Drummer


    I’m obviously going to give it plenty of spins. But I’m shocked of the insane praise. I still have it 3rd fave by them too. I do wish I’d heard it all for the first time father than the drip fed of most of them album since early 2018. I do like it though.
    currytheword likes this.
  14. KramerOsborn

    I'm probably avoiding responsibilities right now.

    This was a great review! As a very casual listener of this band, I am really into it. I've going to give it a few more full listens before I really decide how I feel about it but I honestly love it at this point. This is the first full album I've listened to from them. I've been slacking!
  15. indigopigment


    You lost me when you called them the most important band of our time.
  16. I agree with Drew there. I can't think of another band in that category in 2018. They're the perfect encapsulation of this moment in time for so many reasons.
  17. Ben Lee

    I drink coffee and dad my kids Supporter

    I thought this was the dumbest record I’d heard when I first listened on Friday. I rolled my eyes and turned it off.

    Now it’s Sunday night and I’ve listened to it like 5-6 more times this weekend and I love it.

    This is a good record.
    sebastianrcgr and St. Nate like this.
  18. Drew Beringer

    @drewberinger Moderator

    Well who would you choose?
    bachna84 and benjammin07 like this.
  19. JRGComedy

    Trusted Supporter

    Analog Drummer, St. Nate and bmir14 like this.
  20. MikeERayner


    Surely there’s a better word to describe How to Draw?
  21. SEANoftheDEAD


    I've been listening all weekend and while I think it's great, I can't help but feel like I like it when you sleep.. is a better album.
  22. indigopigment


    Hands down Radiohead. I also think Sufjan has and will have a more important and lasting impact on music in general. The 1975 basically made an album that Bon Iver already put out. I'd also put Wilco ahead of them by leaps and bounds, but could understand if they may predate "our time" slightly. Though Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released in 2001.

    Regardless of the universal praise this album is getting, which I am fine with, I don't think The 1975 has done anything particularly ground breaking or influential enough to garner them a "most important" title.
  23. currytheword


    The hyperbole surrounding them on this site is very real. Love the band, never put them that high in regard though.
    Analog Drummer likes this.
  24. The Black Parade

    Now I Know This World Isn’t Spinning Just For Me Prestigious

    I wish I could love this album/band as much as many of you are. I just can’t gwt overhyped on them. I like them well enough, as this album too, though.
    Analog Drummer likes this.
  25. Pepetito

    Regular Supporter

    I wanted to like this so bad. Only found around 4 songs enjoyable though.
    I think this is the 3rd best in their discography of 3 albums.