After three grueling years, the wait is finally over. The 1975, the popular British, genre-crossing band, has released their third album, “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships.” Since November 2017, this album has been relentlessly taunting fans. Along with the release date suffering a few pushbacks, the dynamic promotional campaign was unmatched. That combination has resulted in an onslaught of anxious fans, taking to the web to vent their frustrations.
Over the course of six months, The 1975 released five singles to keep fans at bay. These five tracks were all poppy and upbeat in nature, suggesting the album to follow would be jam-packed with dance tunes reminiscent of their pop anthems on “I Like It When You Sleep, For You are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It.”
We were all bamboozled.
The 10 remaining songs are mostly slow, reflective and heavily instrumental tracks. The heartbreaking, emotion-filled lyrics that were lacking in the first five singles were lurking in these 10 songs and were punched repeatedly.
The choice to release five dance numbers was a smart one, even if it was frustrating as a fan. Although I enjoyed headbanging to “Give Yourself a Try” and dancing around my room to “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” I found myself growing skeptical. I should have never believed that my favorite band would ever release a lackluster album, but I could not help feeling unsure. Would they be able to reproduce something of the “Robbers” caliber that many, even casual listeners of the band, adore?
There was no need to worry. The 1975 has created another unique, genre-hopping album that I will be listening to for quite a long time. There are clear influences from several different genres: jazz, hip hop, electronic, pop, rock, punk and probably even more that I did not pick up. I might be biased, but I think that The 1975 has a song for every listener. That is one of the reasons I love them so much; their sound is ever-changing and incredibly versatile.
So, here is a song-by-song review of “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships.” You can listen along with me and see how my thoughts stack up to yours.
1. “Give Yourself a Try”
The first single has been described more than a few times as “safe.” Many fans found this release to be disappointing, especially because the song was teased for a few months. Regardless, it remains one of my favorite songs off the album.
“Give Yourself a Try” is an exciting throwback to the band’s punk-rock background, when their band was still called Drive Like I Do. As someone who listens to what they put out as Drive Like I Do even more than I listen to their music as The 1975, “Give Yourself a Try” was a game-changer.
In the era of “I Like It When You Sleep” and their self-titled debut proceeding it, they shied away from their rock influences and adopted more of an indie-pop vibe. Many fans were probably expecting an eccentric, dreamy first release as per usual. Instead, they were greeted with a fast-paced rock song, heavy on the electric guitar and backed by an inspirational-but-not-too-cheesy message of being yourself.
By dropping this as the first single, The 1975 celebrated their roots. Before it was named “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships,” the album was planned to be called “Music for Cars,” the name of an extended play released in 2013, again showcasing their rock-influenced past sound. Now, “Music for Cars” is the name of the era, which lead singer Matty Healy explained in an interview as being the name for the combination of “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships” and another album to be released in 2019, “Notes on a Conditional Form.”
2. “Love It If We Made It”
It is easy to understand why this song is cited as the best of the bunch by many. “Love It If We Made It” tackles modern-day issues with an in-your-face flare. Healy is yelling the vocals for the entirety of the song, and if that doesn’t have enough shock value, then maybe his Donald Trump quotes included in the song, (“Thank you Kayne, very cool!”) will.
The music video to accompany “Love It If We Made It” features a montage of societal issues, such as police brutality, harmful riots and the Kavanaugh confirmation. Although not as catchy as the previous single, “Love It If We Made It” offers unbeatable depth that many songs can only aspire to do. Honestly, it’s worth a listen just for the insane opening line alone.
No, I’m not entirely sure why Healy titled it like that either. “TooTimeTooTimeTooTime” is Healy’s first experimentation with using over-exaggerated autotune on his vocals, and I was not too happy with the choice.
I respect Healy’s unwavering desire to try out new techniques through his music, but I found the heavy autotune unnecessary. It is included to give the track a more electronic feel, but I think the song would be better without it. “TooTimeTooTimeTooTime” is quite poppy and very easy to dance along to. Compared to the rest of The 1975’s songs, it gets lost in the shuffle as it’s kind of forgettable. However, that will not stop me from jamming when it comes on.
4. “Sincerity Is Scary”
This is the first taste of jazz that we get from this album, and I adore it beyond words. Thankfully, there are a couple more songs that offer a healthy dose of saxophone. The 1975 slows it down a bit with “Sincerity is Scary” but still pull through with an easy-to-sing-along chorus.
Along with the jazz riffs, there is another genre mash-up when a gospel choir joins in the chorus. The music video for “Sincerity is Scary” sat pretty as the top trending YouTube video for a couple of days, and the single even left Ariana Grande at a loss for words.
5. “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)”
This song rocked my world. I enjoyed the four previous tracks, sure, but I wasn’t listening to them on repeat again and again like I normally would with a new song by The 1975.
When “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” came out, I did not listen to another song for a couple of days. The track is so good that I do not even have an eloquent or witty way to put it. The bridge halfway through the song is incredible, the sprawling outro rocks and it should be illegal how catchy it is.
6. “The 1975”
If you’ve been following the band for a while, you know they always drop a self-titled song that features the same set of lyrics. This version, probably because of the album title, was heavily autotuned and sounded robotic.
Compared to the previous two versions, which constantly have me feeling like I am in the thrilling climax of an indie film, this one was disappointing. It did not have that exciting punch like the other two; sure, thematically it fits, but I’ll stick to the predecessors.
7. “How to Draw/Petrichor”
“How to Draw/Petrichor” is also a throwback to a song The 1975 released as a budding band but remastered. It is slow, dreamy, but also oddly robotic and unsettlingly full of overlapping autotune.
Some parts make me feel like dozing off, while others are reminiscent of a robot takeover.
8. “Be My Mistake”
Be my mistake by the 1975. That’s it. That’s the tweet. pic.twitter.com/aBVsHX8qCE
— jas (@chicagoswifty) November 30, 2018
That’s it. That’s the review.
9. “I Like America and America Likes Me”
The dream-like background of this song is entrancing, but I wouldn’t be mad if Matty’s autotune was taken out.
At this point, I was admittedly getting annoyed with the use of autotune. One or two songs is okay if you really want to follow through with the technological theme, but it takes away from the beauty of the song behind the vocals.
10. “The Man Who Married a Robot/Love Theme”
This is not so much of a song as a … monologue? Story? It’s a robot talking about a man who fell in love with a robot. It’s entertaining, but not something I can listen to on repeat enjoyably.
However, the outro, or “Love Theme,” is stunning and makes me feel like I am floating on a cloud.
Rating: I have no idea how to rate this.
11. “Inside Your Mind”
The guitar riffs, the spooky way Healy croons “inside your mind,” the beautiful lyrics … this song has it all. If someone wanted an idea of what the sound of The 1975 is, this is a great place to start.
12. “Surrounded by Heads and Bodies”
Reportedly a dedication to Angela, a woman Healy met in therapy who helped him through a difficult time, understandably has fans feeling emotional.
Healy has publicly battled with heroin addiction and shortly before the album’s release, has shared the story of his intense recovery. This reflection about a friend having your back is not one to miss.
Described by YouYube commenter lovelyMissInna as “the embodiment of someone running their fingers through your hair,” “Mine” is a slow, jazzy love song about getting married.
Just don’t listen to it too many times in a row, as you may find yourself redownloading Tinder at the end of it in search of true love.
14. “I Couldn’t Be More In Love”
“I Couldn’t Be More In Love” is reportedly a Michael Jackson-inspired love ballad. You can hear the raw emotion in Healy’s vocals accompanied by a gospel choir.
Complete with a slowed down, ’80s-style guitar riff, the track is a great dedication to the King of Pop. It’s not my style, but I think the band does an awesome job of taking on the genre of ’80s love ballads.
15. “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)”
The last song on the album is my favorite one. Along with having the best title for a song, it is easily one of The 1975’s strongest songs. “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” is packed with gorgeous, powerful vocals with intense instrumentals to accompany them. Seriously, if you do not listen to any other song from the album, you absolutely need to give this song a listen.
The cut has the ability to transport you to the climax of any dramatic film ever. It’s almost too easy to picture yourself walking away in slow motion from a lover with tears in your eyes as a montage of your good times together flashes across the screen. My only complaint with this song is that the last 30 seconds is an unsettling outro composed of terrifying violin sounds. It sounds like you are about to uncover a dead body in a Hitchcock movie. However, since the rest of the song is perfect, I can’t doc a point for that.