It Was the Year 1975
Every studio release from Manchester’s The 1975 has been sonically ambitious. Since its inception, guitarist Adam Hann, bassist Ross MacDonald, drummer George Daniel and singer Matty Healy have experimented with fleshing out their sound while still creating memorable pop tunes.
The band’s self-titled album debuted with stylish hooks while its elegant sophomore album, “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It,” delivered the soul music. Now, The 1975 yearns to have a message within these pops songs. The band’s latest album, “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships,” is an introspection towards young adulthood in contemporary society.
Music for Cars
What began as the project “Music for Cars” named after the 2013 EP of the same name has turned into a two-part album project, beginning with this album. The next, “Notes on a Conditional Form,” is set to release in 2019.
The opening to The 1975’s albums always serve as peek into what’s to come. While the sophomore album aimed to add water to a blooming track, this new album breaks it down a bit. “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships” feels more focused on melody and message than blowing up production with synth sounds. There are more acoustic songs, beautiful piano and string arrangements.
The band throws in some new sounds this time around with fuzzy guitar tones and post-punk bass playing on “Give Yourself a Try.” Other songs like “I Like America & America Likes Me” experiment with some trap-style beats and vocal delivery. Moreover, the album’s biggest strength finds that tracks are able to find more identity compared to previous releases.
The provocative track “Love It If We Made It” is a combustion of the bittersweet realm of information the internet has become. Healy’s words bury into the beat as multiple observations are run through in moments. It holds a pace akin to the oversaturation of tragic news we consume constantly, quickly leaving as more tragedies replace them.
The listener is overwhelmed by scenes of incarcerating minorities, using the power of the internet to churn out pornography, dying refugees, Lil Peep’s passing and even President Donald Trump’s tweets. It suggests how the internet is abused to allow for false information and distrust to be more prevalent than ever.
The chorus of “Love It If We Made It” remains optimistic, though, hoping to overcome this. It doesn’t suggest how, but it truly is difficult to say. The song suggests we have the capacity.
“How to Draw” — originally a bonus track from the band’s second album — has a beautiful, childlike imagination within its sound. While the original version felt like a stir, this version feels like an awakening. Healy’s voice booms and narrates like an ancient colossus through his vocoder. There is a reclusion as Healy repeats “I’ve not learned how to draw.”
These lyrics alone paint a portrait of anxiety the unfulfilled artist might feel, unable to reach the creative horizon they yearn for. Though these lyrics express such doubt, the song radiates with color and splashes with dream-like imagination, painting a relatable picture for any creative mind.
The “The Man Who Married a Robot/Love Theme” is the strangest track on the album, with its narrative read by Siri laced with dark humor. It centers around the lonely snowflakesmasher86 and his best friend the internet. The theme is uncomfortably relatable in how dependent one can become and just how irresistible the internet can be.
Why would one want to leave a companion that can satisfy one’s desires, hear their secrets and take them anywhere in the world? The song sounds like it comes from a dystopian world, but must be acknowledged as part of our reality. It ends on the morbid note of how a person’s Facebook page could serve as a digital resting place.
The song is unlike anything The 1975 has ever produced, and is the type of experiment that shows the band is able to venture into atypical sounds while still retaining a listener’s investment.
The band has brought some surprises to its composition this time around. However, certain tracks are still laced with old The 1975 formulas better left in the past. “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” engages infidelity with some boring content on worrying about girlfriends cheating, texting boys and not liking your crush’s social media. The message is decent enough, trying to revolve around how even social media can compromise a relationship.
The songwriting lacks creativity even compared to cheesy songs from the band’s first album. However, its goofy chorus, which does get stuck in your head, at least keeps you on your toes with its counting game.
“Be My Mistake” just rubs the wrong way. It dabbles in topics such as understanding oneself through mistakes. It hints that this hook-up threatens the speaker’s monogamous relationship, and the message isn’t strong enough to overcome the selfishness present.
Monogamy is a sensitive topic for any relationship, but “Be My Mistake” doesn’t succeed in justifying the lust in these situations. Even if it wasn’t attempting to justify this lust, the way the girl is treated feels harsh. The song tries to mask how she is essentially treated as a convenient hook-up with its “I get lonely” and “She reminds me of my girlfriend and that makes me sad” mood, but it just seems insensitive and immature.
“Petrichor,” the second half to the aforementioned “How to Draw,” marks a disappointing turn. When conjoined with “How to Draw,” the song is weakened by the beauty of the beginning. The potential found in the frolicking creativity of its sound prepares the listener for a dream pop masterpiece. What comes is a glitchy dance tune that starts out fine, but underwhelms with its lack of exploration.
The album leaves the listener craving more songs like choice cuts “Give Yourself a Try,” “Love It If We Made It,” the first half of “How to Draw/Petrichor,” “The Man Who Married a Robot/Love Theme” and “I Always Want to Die (Sometimes).”
Does this online relationship make it?
The 1975’s “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships” brings a transition from catchy pop to dance to a more sophisticated form of pop songwriting. Its message of the internet age of society avoids being a gimmick, having a genuine feel about how young adults are growing up nowadays. While the lyrical content and songwriting has gotten better, certain tracks portray a band still in the middle of completing its transition. This album’s brilliant songwriting and surprising twists yield some of the band’s strongest songs to date, making this online relationship quite clingy.
Note from the author: The album’s closing track “I Always Want to Die (Sometimes)” sounds like a spiritual successor to Sigur Rós song “Hoppípolla,” a song about the carefree joy and dreams found during one’s youth. “I Always Want to Die (Sometimes)” has a similar melody and presents a quarter-life crisis many young adults find when unable to achieve what they initially set out to make of themselves.