‘A Brief Inquiry’ into the best album of 2018

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Sam Bernstein managing editor

Matty Healy did it again. The Manchester-based pop group The 1975 released its third studio album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, last Thursday, Nov. 30. The record, succeeding The 1975 (2013) and I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (2016), features some of their best work to date. The album has drawn an unprecedented amount of praise from both fans and music critics, and has exceeded the enormous expectations set after their massively successful first two albums.

The 1975 is the quintessential modern pop band. The group skillfully uses contemporary audio technitioning and lyrical genius to create vibrant and popular (yet meaningful) music. The band’s unique and unconventional artistry makes listening to them feel special, as every song has distinct differences from the one prior.

The thing that makes The 1975 so captivating to music fans is that they are able to differentiate themselves from other artists in the alternative genre through their complexities. They can draw die-hard fans and experts, while at the same time make music that can be appreciated and understood by the casual fan. Similar to their first two albums, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships does has all of those qualities as well, and it may be the best example of that of all their work. The record has fun pop hits like “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)”; timeless love ballads like “Be My Mistake” and “I Couldn’t Be More In Love”; and signature instrumentals like “How To Draw / Petrichor” and “Surrounded by Heads and Bodies.”

Some of the songs from the new record are catered more to those who fancy the band’s intricacies. “I Like America & America Likes Me” and “Inside Your Mind” are tracks that entail a certain amount of appreciation for the band’s said complexities to fully enjoy, but that’s not a crime. The 1975 is allowed to create music that is more driven toward their listeners rather than toward a wider audience.

That was the main issue with their last album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. On the tracks “Love Me” and “The Sound,” the band seemed to lose a bit of authenticity in an effort to pander to the mainstream. While these songs did go over relatively well with the group’s traditional fan base, in the coming months before A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships dropped, fans worried that the band would continue to move further away stylistically from their debut album, The 1975. This record has absolutely been able to set said fans at ease. There are clear parallels between The 1975’s new album and their debut album, especially on tracks like “How To Draw / Petrichor” and “I Like America & America Likes Me.” All in all, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is a perfect example of a band adapting to new trends in the music industry while staying true to themselves.

With that said, the rest of the album reveals so much progress from the group. Healy’s social commentary throughout the album is one of its major highlights. The album’s title, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, is indicative of the album’s reoccuring themes: the changing of social norms in the modern first world, and how love has evolved during the internet era. The 1975 does a great job putting their feelings on said topics out there. “Love It If We Made It,” “The Man Who Married a Robot / Love Theme” and (I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” offer brilliant insight on how the band, particularly Matty Healy, feels about major social issues for modern young people.

My only complaint about the album is the inclusion of “The Man Who Married a Robot / Love Theme.” This track doesn’t have any vocals, just a message spoken by Siri with a lovely piano tune playing behind it. The message itself is gripping; it delves into internet/social media addiction and the piece is really fascinating. However, it gets old quickly, and after the first couple listens, the song has become an instant skip.  The track, which is the eighth on the album, is nuzzled between “I Like America & America Likes Me” and “Inside Your Mind,” which are two great songs that don’t quite fit next to each other. The lyrics of the spoken piece contain very valuable insight into the band’s opinions on the societal effects of social media; however, it would have made more sense to include those lyrics in the booklet in the physical copy, or in the album’s notes.

This album is the best of the year. It is an absolute work of art that reaches across several genres to make a beautiful pop, jazz, alternative, rock mess. The album and its messages come off as genuine and the themes in the album captivate further thought about complex topics that wouldn’t have been on your mind before listening to the album. Highlights gives this album a 10/10.

You can listen to A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships on Apple Music and Spotify. Music videos from the album are available on YouTube. The 1975’s fourth studio album, Notes On A Conditional Form, will be available in May 2019.

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