With 15 tracks and almost 60 minutes running time, The 1975’s third album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is anything but brief (albeit much shorter than their previous album I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It). On their latest offering, the Mancunian quartet aim to offer a comment on love in the time of social media.
Despite its many oddities, ABIIOR’s strangest song remains its first single Give Yourself A Try. If it wasn’t for the purposely annoying guitar riff, this play on 2000s college rock is probably the closest to their earliest material. A song so equally catchy and hard to listen to that only The 1975 can get away with it.
Video: The 1975 – TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME
Airy and nearly instrumental intermissions like the self-titled opening track or How To Draw / Petrichor, on the other hand, sound like the backdrop of a science fiction movie. The Man Who Married A Robot / Love Theme consists of a voice over by a male Siri narrating the story of a man who’s best friend and lover is the internet. Like a modern take on Radiohead’s Fitter Happier, the track brings to mind Spike Jonze’s movie “Her” and is the only explicit inquiry into online relationships.
The 1975 are at their best when they craft full blown and unashamed pop songs such as previously released singles TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME, It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You, an upbeat comment on vocalist Matt Healy’s battle with heroin addiction, or I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes), the stadium sized album closer. Love It If We Made stands out the most and is probably their biggest composition to date. Healy’s urgent vocals against a pumping bass line concluding that “modernity has failed us” is the album’s nucleus. The ever hopeful chorus line “And I love it if we made it” give it the feel of a man shouting against a storm.
The 1975 – Love It If We Made It (Video)
Other than that, the record meanders a bit switching styles from acoustic musings about infidelity and loneliness (My Mistake, Surrounded By Heads And Bodies), to jazz infused love songs (Mine), auto tuned R&B stompers (I Like America & It Likes Me), 1980s style power ballads (I Couldn’t Be More In Love) and the gospel choirs on Sincerity Is Scary. The 1975 remain unafraid to explore different styles and genres and most of the time, they succeed at making them their own.
Despite its title, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is not a conceptual album, on the contrary, it’s not even particularly coherent. Like their second album, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, it wants to be too many things at once. For all its glimpses of brilliance, ABIIOR is also a wild ride through the mind of Matt Healy, a genre defying rock star for his generation of millennials.