The 1975 are back with their new album A Brief
Enquiry Into Online Relationships, however I have always found with their
other records that they take a bit of getting into, and this is much the same -
not that this is necessarily a negative thing. On first listen the singles or
what will perhaps be known in the future as “the hits” stand out with poppy tracks
like ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’, which became a real earworm and got me appreciating
that music can be just frivolous and fun. But it is only on repeated listening
that you get the feel for the more emotional songs and realise that frontman
Matty Healy, while reflecting on his own experiences, is questioning the world
around him and simultaneously inviting us to do so too.
As always, the honesty of the band shines through with
‘Give Yourself a Try’, reflecting on what advice to give to your younger self. When
asked this question, the pressure is to search for something deep and meaningful,
yet Healy acknowledges that perhaps it would be more useful to point out that
“Growing a beard’s quite hard/ And whiskey never starts to taste nice”.
Perhaps this also makes the point that even though we
assume maturity brings wisdom, in reality we will never really figure everything
out. It could be said that it is hard to figure the world out with the lyrics
of ‘Love It If We Made It’ being filled with topical issues of the modern
world. The song ironically gains its explicit status from the President’s infamous
taped comments on women.
A complete melting pot of genres influenced the record.
There is something for everyone, yet you are maybe less likely to enjoy every
track: from the gospel choir in ‘Sincerity Is Scary’, the techno and autotuned
parts of ‘How To Draw/ Petrichor’ and ‘I Like America & America Likes Me’
and the vulnerable ballads of ‘Be My Mistake’ and ‘I Always Want To Die
(Sometimes)’. The dark lyrics of ‘Inside Your Mind’ matched with Healy’s deep
voice that cause goose-bumps as he sings of wanting to know everything about a
The album highlights many concerns of society with an
entire song being dedicated to man’s relationship with the internet in a monologue
by Siri. The robotic voice emphasises how artificial our relationship is with
social media as ultimately the experience we receive from it is superficial.
Our online relationships may seem to save us from our loneliness but instead
they heighten it, as living a life online you become almost a parody of
yourself. The songs message is embarrassingly true, but does it belong in an
album? It is hardly a song you would listen to driving home from somewhere, yet
the message seems to carry all the more strength due to its incongruous
setting, and maybe music needs this kind of bluntness in this day and age.
In candidly revealing his heroin addiction and rehab
journey in ‘It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You’, probably the catchiest tune
on the record, Healy does not glamorise the drug scene and confronts the
struggles of being a rockstar, which he wonders if he even is.
While it isn’t a record for every mood every day, this
project shows The 1975 exploring universal themes in a deeper way than before and
making their name as serious contenders in the music industry. They are not
just another band for millennial girls to obsess over.