The 1975 has been promoting the release of brand new album “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships” since June. The enigmatic pop rock band has garnered mixed reviews with their first two albums. Critics and audiences alike were unsure of what to expect following the five singles the band released, one each month before the album’s debut. Really, no one could have been able to predict what the Manchester group had spent the year writing.
The record spans from upbeat synth pop to eighties inspired jazz ballads. An interlude narrated by Siri connects a chaotic first half to a slow but beautiful end. With inspiration from bands like Oasis, Radiohead and The Smiths, frontman and writer Matty Healy channels iconic musicians and genres, all with a fresh and unique take and sound. The album has been praised for its rawness and honesty, including a love song about infidelity and Healy’s four year heroin addiction, as well as reflections on the chaotic, confusing nature of the world today from the perspective of the youth that populates the band’s fan base. Throughout the record, the group utilizes long, instrumental and synthetic melodies and intentionally auto tuned vocals. However, there are plenty of songs that display Healy’s naturally raw singing voice.
What makes this album so unique is its honesty and ability to shift from in tone and genre organically. Each song demands a different sound to convey its message- and Healy takes the duty of sending the right messages seriously (see: his arm tattoo that reads: “weak messages create bad situations). The loud, repetitive, electronic chorus of “Give Yourself A Try” would never work in the romantic jazz melody “Mine” or eerily violent love song “Inside Your Mind.” It takes genuine creative control to balance such rich and diverse music within in one record- an ability Healy has slowly perfected throughout his band’s career.
There are a few choices so bold they may to some be considered missteps. The long, techno interludes could be accused of slowing the record down. The opening song “The 1975” is a robotic version of the introduction that has appeared on all three of the band’s records. The use of autotune and robotic sound effects is constant throughout the album, a choice that may not sit well with all listeners. Still, one must acknowledge the choice was an artistic one, as Healy clearly has no insecurities when it comes to his vocals. They appear in raw simplicity on multiple of the tracks- such as the acoustic “Be My Mistake” and 80’s inspired power ballad “I Couldn’t Be More In Love”.
The group has been divisive since its inception. Their first, self titled album was widely given poor reviews from critics while garnering the band an intense fanbase. Their sophomore record, “I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it” seemed to win many skeptics over with its infectious pop beats and clever lyrics. This album represents a great change for The 1975, a shift to a more honest and sincere voice from Healy and strong influences from early alternative rock. So far, critics seem impressed.
Overall, the album is heart wrenching, honest and electric. It brings personal and universal struggles in the modern world to light in a way so genuine, you can’t help but empathize. While a few choices will certainly be controversial amongst fans and critics, it is difficult to deny that “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships” is one of the most impressive albums of the year.