The 1975: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (Dirty Hit/Interscope) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019  

The 1975

A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Dirty Hit/Interscope

Dec 17, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

For anyone watching from outside the UK, the rise of The 1975 must be somewhat confusing. How did this band, with their penchant for grand ludicrous statements and stylistic excursions, make the jump from punchline to indie-rock royalty? The UK's NME magazine named them "the worst band in the world" for their debut album, then picked the follow-up as their album of the year. For their third record, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, the magazine praised them for making "OK Computer for millennials." The turn-around has been similar, if less pronounced, in the rest of the UK press.

The simple answer for the band's change in fortune is that in a time when British indie-rock is largely bereft of ideas, The 1975 have a lot of them. Across this latest hour of music, the band try on sounds from jazz-rap, pop-reggaeton, Gershwin balladry, IDM, and Britpop. What ties them together is a glossy production sheen and frontman Matty Healy's lyrics, which touch on modern dating, information overload, and drug addiction with consistently funny insights.

It goes without saying A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is neither brief nor exclusively concerned with the online world. It may lack the focus and technical mastery of OK Computer, but in its place is a freewheeling celebration of unbridled creativity. No idea is off limits on this record, as The 1975's style has morphed from "indie but pop" to "just about anything you can think of but pop." That approach gives you songs such as "Give Yourself a Try" (Joy Division's "Disorder" but pop), "How to Draw / Petrichor" (Burial but pop), and "I Like America and America Likes Me" (mumble rap but pop).

If it all sounds ridiculous, you're not wrong. But within the madness, there are many more great ideas than a safer band could achieve in their entire career. Healy walks a fine line between insufferable and effortlessly charming, but he is also one of the genre's last true stars. On "Love It If We Made It," he smashes together the overwhelming sensation of 24/7 news with an exhilarating '80s pop stomp. "It's Not Living (If It's Not with You)" is an instant-classic love song that's really about addiction. And on "Inside Your Mind," he comes up with a novel metaphor for romantic obsession: dreaming of literally cracking open his lover's head to look inside.

Although indie-rock has largely ceded cultural ground to hip-hop in recent years, A Brief Inquiry... feels designed to be a classic. What is staggering is it hits that mark many more times than it misses. Listeners will vary on which songs are the missteps - for me, they are the on-the-nose "man who fell in love with the Internet" interlude and the earnest soft-rock tribute "I Couldn't Be More in Love"-but for every moment of poor judgment, there are countless moments of inventive vision. 

Take, for example, the jaw-dropping opening lines of "Love It If We Made It""Fucking in a car, shooting heroin/saying controversial things just for the hell of it." Or the gleefully catchy "TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME," which jettisons the band's usual verbosity for a sharp pop crossover. Or the decision to close with a festival-ready anthem called "I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)" that unbelievably justifies its ridiculous title. 

The 1975 are attempting to define the present in a way that few artists in any genre attempt. They write songs designed to be celebrated with friends and family, and designed to soundtrack life-changing moments. You may feel the urge to dismiss them as pretentious or pompous, but if you can resist that impulse, A Brief Inquiry... soon reveals itself to be full of genuine heart, intelligence and wit. This is a band who want to be the best of their generation. They might not be there yet, but it is incredible to hear them come close. (www.the1975.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10



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Tatremy
January 26th 2019
10:33pm

There ya go UnderTheRadar. That’s how you write a review.