Leave it to British pop band The 1975 to deliver one of 2018’s most ambitious and thought-provoking albums in “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships.”
Produced by lead singer Matthew Healy and drummer George Daniel, “Inquiry” is 15 tracks of examination on the state of social media and the world at large. It is a commentary on life and relationships in the digital era, namely the ever-growing attachment to smartphones and other pieces of technology that continue to create a stronger presence in today’s relationship culture.
On “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME,” Healy comments on infidelity in the age of social media. The single, like most other songs on the album, is upbeat musically but contains less optimistic subject matter in the lyrics.
“She said that I should have liked it,” Healy sings regarding the importance of Instagram in current relationships. “I told her ‘I only use it sometimes.’”
The album’s highlight, “Love It If We Made It,” is a full-on analysis of the toxic aspects of modern heritage, with Healy yelling for a means to live and prosper through the darkest hours. The beauty of the song lies in its ability to shine a light in the face of our biggest struggles as a people.
“Modernity has failed us,” Healy sings, “and I’d love it if we made it.”
Stylistically, the band is all over the place in the best possible way. From the ambient passages on “How To Draw” to the full-blown jazz production backing “Mine,” the band toys with different genres with reckless abandon and to great effect. It is the sound of a band trying to step out of its comfort zone, with Healy’s familiar vocals allowing the diverse tracks to gel with ease.
In addition to meddling in different musical styles, The 1975 pride themselves on homage throughout “Inquiry.” “Give Yourself A Try” and “The Man Who Married A Robot” have the sound of a happier Radiohead, while “I Couldn’t Be More In Love” and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” sound like they could have topped the charts in 1986.
That’s not to say the group doesn’t stick to their guns. The album features a plethora of piano-driven ballads, namely “Inside Your Mind” and “Be My Mistake,” some of the band’s best and most heartfelt material thus far. The sound that they had captured on their previous album, “I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It,” is still present but is greatly improved upon here.
“A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships” shows that The 1975 is capable of making the next great album that makes sense of all of the great tragedies and triumphs of life. And upon hearing this great artistic statement, it may come sooner than we think.