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A brief inquiry into ‘Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’

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"A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships," the third studio album from The 1975, was released Nov. 30, 2018.

Timothy Stolp, Entertainment Editor

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With the release of their third studio album last Friday, The 1975 is flying high in the charts and intriguing listeners around the world.

The 1975 is a well-established British band in the alternative scene that does not like to be categorized under one genre, as lead singer Matty Healy has stated, and their music reflects that. Every song they have crafted has been made without the question of genre; it makes for a distinctly eclectic sonic experience. Regarding the new LP, “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships,” this is especially true. Healy’s brilliant lyricism combined with the talents of the three other members continue to explore modern life and art in their own boundary-busting way.

Lindsay Zoladz wrote for The Ringer about how the album captures the current era with precision.

“‘Brief Inquiry’ is a vivid and panoramic record about what it means to be alive right now, in all its terror and glory,” said Zoladz. “Its explorations of technology-induced numbness put into relief the human joy of reconnecting to another person, or maybe just oneself.”

As the opener, the band’s eponymous theme song of sorts is reinvented with a dismal, eery rhythm of silence and choir-esque bursts reminiscent of “715 – Creeks” by Bon Iver. It sets the tone for the rest of the record.

Quickly thereafter, the lead single of the album, “Give Yourself a Try,” takes off with nods to the band’s debut album in the guitar. The track serves as a love letter to Healy’s own self, discussing his opioid addiction and self-loathing.

Photo Provided by Batiste Safont
The 1975’s lead singer Matty Healy performs live in concert.

The song “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” marks a different note in their discography, one decidedly more hip-hop infused with their signature bounce of the piano. It’s followed by “How To Draw/Petrichor,” a song whose oddness is only rivaled by “The Man Who Married A Robot/Love Theme.” The choppiness and techno-inspired beats match the theme, even adding a layer of meta-reality to the album; this is the secret to its lyrical success.

Each song on “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships” is aware of itself, unlike many modern hits. In this way, the tracks can comment on themselves and mess with listeners’ heads about the effect of the sound on their emotions. It’s an experiment in post-modernism that sets the album apart from band’s past work.

The next song, “Love It If We Made It” is a prime example of this element. The lyrics, “We’re just left to decay / Modernity has failed us / But I’d love it if we made it,” evince the stark urgency of the crisis at hand and comes to terms with it at once with the help of the smooth instrumentals.

Zoladz notes the haunting discussion of climate devastation that the song toys with.

“This song is one for the time capsule, though the open question of whether anyone will be around to discover it is one of its animating and quintessentially millennial anxieties,” said Zoladz. “Modernity indeed!”

As the album progresses, the story of addiction, connection and communication is given a new guise through ten more tracks. Standout anthems like pre-release singles, “Sincerity is Scary” and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” contrast the softness of ballads like “Be My Mistake” and “I Couldn’t Be More in Love.”

The album is highly experimental, but perhaps to a band so usually “out there”, a typical understanding of experimentation is just The 1975’s standard convention. Nevertheless, it is rife with all the “drama and subtext” that Healy loves, and the spirit that fans love.

With their fourth album coming sometime next year (release set for June), “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships” is not one to be forgotten.

Timothy Stolp, Staff Writer

Timothy Stolp is a second-year Statesman staff member, serving as the Entertainment Editor. In his free time, Timothy works and participates in theater...

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