Change, whether you like it or not is going to happen. This is true for all parts of life, everything around you is subject to change. Everything you see and hear is constantly changing.
The 1975 are a band that are embracing it.
Keeping up with the pace of a world that is evolving at overwhelming rates can be exhausting. It is easy to play it safe and try to stay stagnant in a creative space that you know works for you. Plenty of bands are out there doing that already.
That is what makes The 1975 different. With two albums – both hugely different – already under their belt, they’ve already established a name for themselves. They have already gained a solid fanbase, who would be happy to hear anything from them and could’ve rested on their laurels by putting out a carbon copy of 2016’s I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It – an album that is already arguably steps ahead of their peers.
They could’ve done that, and it probably would’ve been good. But what they did do is so so much better.
In an age where technology is ingrained into our lives so deeply that nobody knows if it is good or bad, taking a side on the matter is almost a second nature. Whether you are tweeting about the ‘good old days when there wasn’t a phone in sight’ or tweeting making fun of ‘not a phone in sight’ tweets, you’ve got an opinion.
But what The 1975 have created with album three – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships – is a place to stop and actually think about where we are at right now. It forms a world identical to ours, with all the same problems and situations, but without all of the people telling us what to think.
The album is literally what it says on the cover. An inquiry. That is what sets it apart from not only the loud, opinionated works of other artists, but their own previous work.
Tracks like It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You) still offer a dark insight into Matty Healy’s life, with lyrics like ‘collapse my veins, wearing beautiful shoes’ alluding to his own heroin addiction.
As is always the way with The 1975 songs, the way these dark themes are presented are through catchy, light pop beats. With choir vocals overlaid, it would be easy to mindlessly sing along while in the car, without even giving the dark under text a second thought. But for those who do listen to the words and take in what is being said, it is easy to feel closer to Matty than ever.
However, outside of personal stories, the album has a bigger tale to tell. This is best done between track eight I Like America & America Likes Me and track nine, The Man Who Married A Robot/Love Theme.
I Like America is a track which comments on one of the most prevalent issues on the globe right now, gun violence in America. The powerful line which is repeated throughout “I’m scared of dying” offers what is an obvious reality for many American teens, leaving the listener to put themselves in the shoes of these students. While the band don’t openly come out and give their stance on the issue, they force you to truly think and form your own opinion like a piece of abstract art does – all in a Kanyesque autotune, which is all too fitting for this moment in time.
The link between abstract art and A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is even stronger in The Man Who Married A Robot/Love Theme – a poem narrated by none other than Siri himself.
Hearing the Apple assistant tell a story about being a man’s only friend, right up until the his death, it is hard not to get chills. Not only because it is a sad, sad tale, but because it is one that we know could easily be a reality. Yet, again, the band never say it is a bad thing. That judgement, they leave up to us.
It isn’t just the abstract of the album that makes it incredible though. Songs which sound more classic, such as Love It If We Made It, I Couldn’t Be More in Love and I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes) truly highlight the band’s pure talent.
I Couldn’t Be More In Love shows a side of Matty’s vocals that are so much stronger than they have ever been before. Stripped back from the heavy, purposeful autotune on other tracks, this one feels so much more intimate and raw. With the choir joining in on lines we have all been able to relate to at some point “But what about these feelings I’ve got?” it is hard to not get swept up in the emotion of it all. This isn’t just music that will resonate with the youth, it resonates with everyone who has ever been a youth.
I Always Want to Die (Sometimes) is a track that on the first listen, you know is going to get repeated until you know every note. From the lyrics that offer guidance “If you can’t survive; just try” to the production which is so strong it feels like a cinematic experience and raw demo all at once. This track could be the international anthem of 2018. The abrupt, dramatic end of the song leaves space for the start of something new. Something which the band are already working on, the next album Notes on a Conditional Form.
The huge difference in sound throughout the tracklist on A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships should really sound like songs from a selection of albums put together. But somehow it avoids it -strengthening the point that it is an album that doesn’t just exist in its own league, it exists in its own world. A world of its own creation.
It is undeniable that the 1975 are one of the strongest bands of this generation. Even those that don’t like them would find it hard to deny that there isn’t anyone out there that are doing anything remotely like them at the moment and in a world full of copy and paste, this is more important than ever.
Listen to A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships below.
Featured Photo Credit – Spencer Kohn