REVIEW: The 1975’s sound, lyrics at their best in ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’


Matthew Healy of the band The 1975 performs in concert during night one of the Radio 104.5 10th Birthday Show at BB&T Pavilion on Saturday, May 13, 2017, in Camden, N.J. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Alex Novak

English pop rock band The 1975 has released its highly anticipated third studio album, “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships,” which features some of its most well-written lyrics and a fresh, refined sound.

The band expands its versatility by exploring many genres, including pop, jazz, rock, soul and R&B. It also provides a heavy dose of clever lyricism and purposeful music that sometimes delves into an old-timey ‘80s pop sound to deliver its best album to date, and one of the best of 2018.

The album is consistent with a conceptual theme of the band members’ viewpoint on modern-day forms of communication, specifically the types of relationships social media can create, which result in beautiful connections for some people, but also scary endings.

Beginning a new era in their music referred to as “Music for Cars,” which was originally used as the working title for this album, the band seems to be exploring different aspects of modern society and how people interact, rather than directly from personal experiences. They will follow this release up in 2019 with the companion piece called “Notes on a Conditional Form.”

The album, preceded by five relatively successful singles, such as “Give Yourself a Try” and the widely popular “Love It If We Made It,” which features vulgarity in its lyrics, blunt social commentary in its meaning and heavy, bombastic rock in its sound.

“TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” is a lovable dance track with one of the catchiest choruses of the year paired with it that mirrors their synth-pop hit “The Sound” very closely. It is instantly a song that people can groove to for its upbeat sound and energetic piano and guitar riffs.

“I swear that I only called her one time. … I didn’t mean to two time you,” sings frontman Matty Healy on this track, which talks about the accepted condition of unfaithfulness in online relationships in the digital age.

The lyrics explore the internet’s sometimes adverse effects on human interaction with creative twists on serious themes, such as addiction, love, communication, honesty and consequences.

Most notably, “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” serves as a maturing reflection on Healy’s longtime struggle with heroin addiction, which he is now recovering from. The song infuses a dance-pop beat, paired with lyrics that detail his experience using drugs and the difficulties of withdrawing from them through his music.

On an album that clearly contains such hit prowess, it delivers many more standout songs, particularly when Healy channels a classic Michael Jackson sound in his vocal delivery and poignant keyboard performance to accompany “I Couldn’t Be More in Love.”

This tune pairs nicely with another single, “Sincerity Is Scary,” which features a choir and Healy’s powerful voice. These sounds carry the album, especially the tracks about love and heartbreak.

“I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes),” which captures the anthemic rock of the ‘90s and early 2000s, is a five-minute suite of symphonic listening bliss that ends the album fittingly with a gradual orchestra performance as its outro.

“Inside Your Mind” is a more forceful love tune, which expresses desperation to know how someone else feels in regard to self. The ballad is accompanied mainly by piano and soft drums, as well as an invigorating guitar riff in the chorus.

“Be My Mistake” explores insignificant relationships in today’s society and how the idea of casual arrangements can seem like something a person wants but can easily create many problems and cause emotional trauma.

These two songs in particular sum up the album’s prose quite well, as they examine two ideas — to live in wonder of a relationship or in blind confidence of one — neither of which can be very comforting in a time where romance and true connection with others has subsided to some degree, in the band members’ opinion. Ultimately, the album is an enjoyable listen and refreshing perspective on a current problem in society.

Alex Novak is an entertainment reviewer. Contact him at [email protected].