Album Review: The 1975 “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships”
Written by Rory Larrison on December 5, 2018
Title: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
Artist: The 1975
Label: Dirty Hit Records
Release Date: November 30, 2018
The first time I listened to The 1975’s new album, “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships”, I was extremely disappointed. Following the massive success of their second album, the band had a lot to live up to. “I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It” received awards left and right, including a Grammy award for Best Boxed or Special Edition Limited Edition Package in 2017, and was personally one of my favorite albums of 2016.
Launch into ABIIOR, and the rock, dirty and grunge sound that fans of The 1975 originally fell for is now officially dead. Their newest 15 track album features a mixture of instrumentals, radio-pop bops, and slow ballads. It even goes as far as to introduce “The Man Who Married a Robot/Love Theme”, a spoken word which details a romantic relationship between a man and The Internet and is completely narrated by the male, British Siri rather than any of the band members themselves.
In fact, a common theme throughout the album is the fact that lead vocalist Matty Healy’s voice is disguised in the majority of songs. Masked by an overabundance of autotune, the album fails to deliver a certain sense of authenticity that is found in so many of the band’s most beloved songs.
Track 4, “How To Draw/Petrichor” featured a remix of the band’s earlier release simply titled “How To Draw” on the I Like It When You Sleep Target exclusive. A faster tempo, electronic vocals, and shortening the instrumentals on the song ruined what I deemed as one of my favorite tracks on their previous record. I’d felt like everything I’d ever known about The 1975 had gone through a time warp and come out as nothing more than a bunch of ones and zeros. And although songs like “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” and “Give Yourself a Try” have drilled their way into my brain and created seemingly everlasting earworms, there is not one single song that sticks out or demands attention. There is no “Sex” or “Robbers” or “Love Me” that ties the album together the way their previous albums and EP’s have had.
Songs like “Inside Your Mind”, “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” and “Sincerity is Scary” offer the most redemption for the tracklist. Although none of them are powerful enough to command the rest of the album, they each are unique from one another in sound and allow the beauty of Healy’s vocals and each individual instrument to shine through, which allows them to be appreciated easier and quicker.
Other longtime fans of The 1975 generally seem not to be as critical as I am of ABIIOR. The album has received much praise for it’s discussion on technology and has produced some of the best music videos the band has put out, but if you are not already a fan of The 1975, this is not the album I recommend for you to listen to first. Fall in love with band and it’s previous music before jumping into this record.
Track 3: TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME
Track 7: Sincerity is Scary
Track 14: I Couldn’t Be More in Love