For the last six years, English Pop/Rock band The 1975 has been named one of the best bands of this generation. Their artistry is evident in their redefinition of pop music, mixing genres and taking the heart of every sentimental millennial out there. The four-person band consists of vocalist Matty Healy, lead guitarist Adam Haan, bassist Ross Macdonald, and drummer George Daniel, all life-long friends, some of whom have been making music together since their early teens. Now each in their late 20s, the band hits the top of the charts with their music that reflects the ups and downs of life, from addiction and mental illness to love and lust. The band continues to redefine the do’s and don’t of music in their wildest album yet, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, a 15-song record that only begins to touch the surface of the beauty and the nightmare that is the postmodern human experience.
The album opens with a self-titled anthem that any fan will recognize as the token intro song that is remixed for each new album. This song is an experience of its own, like you’re catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in years. Their hair is different, their clothes have changed, they have new stories to tell, but underneath they’re same person you’ve known your whole life, and you instantly feel like no time has passed. The instrumental creeps in slowly until Healy’s robotic vocals chant, “go down, soft sound, midnight, car lights...step into your skin? I’d rather jump into your bones…” Heartachingly short and sweet, and like that we enter the bands new era.
Just when you thought that The 1975 left you hanging in the final 30 seconds of white noise in intro, the almost anxious rattle of “Give Yourself A Try” jolts you awake. Released in May of this year, this song acts as Healy’s "millennial tell-all” on navigating relationships, self acceptance and authenticity. The song opens with, “You learn a couple things when you get to my age, Like friends don't lie and it all tastes the same in the dark/ When your vinyl and your coffee collection is a sign of the times/ You're getting spiritually enlightened at 29.” Healy repeats, “give yourself a try,” in the hook, spewing advice and wisdom left and right in his witty banter about adulthood. Track 11 “It’s Not Living If It’s Not You” is another cheeky dance tune you can’t help but sing along to. In his interview with The Guardian, Healy openly talks about his time spent in a rehab facility in Barbados at the end of last year. He later released the lyrics to this song he described as, “the big heroin one.” As an ode to his addiction, the singer has expressed the value of authenticity and sharing his truth with the world through in his music.
The 1975 comes in hard with the next track “Love It If We Made It”. A song that catches everyone off guard with Matty crashing in shouting, “We’re f*cking in a car/ shooting heroin/ saying controversial things just for the hell of it…” the song acts as Matty’s own person punching bag––“a jam of hope amongst the rubble,” he called it in an interview with Genius. The song is meant to be anything but a protest song, although Matty’s preach-like vocals tell otherwise. In a seemingly improvisational rant about socio political concerns such as, the school to prison pipeline, colorism, the prevalence and distrust of technology and the media, the 2015 headline of 3-year old refugee Aylan Kurdi's death, and, of course, Trump’s presidency. He continues, “Oh F*ck your feelings/ Truth is only hearsay/We're just left to decay/Modernity has failed us/And I'd love it if we made it.” In his reference to statements made by Trump supporters, and his direct quotes of our president himself, Healy touches on fake-news creating a society that questions truth, claiming that modernity has failed all of us. In an exhausted plea, Healy asks that we love each other through this time, as it is only way we’ll make it through.
Following the theme of controversial subjects and call-out culture, “Sincerity Is Scary” is an uplifting and soulful song that questions the postmodern tendency people have to hide their humanness behind irony and skepticism. The 1975 then take an obvious stance against current gun policy in America in their political song, “I Like America and America Likes Me.” In the past, Healy has expressed his frustration with the usage of guns in America both in interviews and over social media. The song fades in and out repeating phrases like,“please listen” and “say something,” noting Healy’s obvious desire for reform and a desperation for change. The band has publicly protested gun laws in their refusal to do any sort of meet and greet in the United States until gun policy is changed.
Another fully-loaded summer single called “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” rolls in, a rhythmic exploration of the effect the digital age has on personal relationships. Healy seems to embody the vocals of a “happy robot,” and hypnotizes listeners with the layered rhythm and static production of the song that was made to be danced to mindlessly. We’re later brought back down to earth with the unexpected track, “The Man Who Married a Robot/Love Theme begins. The song is narrated by Siri himself and is a dystopian poem that tells the story of a man named @SnowflakeSmasher86; who in his loneliness befriends the internet and develops a love-blind addiction to the digital world. Combine the computerized feature with the unsettling story, and the song becomes the most alarming in that we can relate to the character and his world a little more than we expected.
As the track list progresses, the album shifts into a playlist of atypical love ballads. “Be My Mistake” speaks when there are no words left. The song is rich, yet deconstructed in vulnerability making it feel like you’re in the room as it’s being recorded. Healy sings of love and lust as he tells a tale of guilt and loneliness with lyrics, “I shouldn’t have called/ ‘Cause we shouldn’t speak/You might make me hard/but she makes me weak...” A story that marks the inevitable struggle to figure out who you are and what you want when you are young and still figuring things out. “Mine” is almost velveteen in its head-spinning melody. An all-too familiar story told with hints of jazz in the piano and percussion and of course, a trumpet solo. A song that fits the cozy holiday aesthetic in every way. “Surrounded By Heads and Bodies,” a song whose poetic lyrics tell the story of Angela, a friend of Healy likely met while in rehab. The acoustic guitar that accompanies Healy’s stone cold vocals gives warmth and familiarity to the melody.
The penultimate track “Couldn’t Be More In Love” is heartbreakingly beautiful in the powerful vocals and intense orchestration. In an interview with Pitchfork, Healy explains that he recorded the vocals the day before leaving for rehab and kept them because of they way they communicated hopelessness. Matty is joined by the London Community Gospel choir in the chorus,“So what about these feelings I’ve got/We’ve got it wrong, and you said you had enough/ What about these feelings I’ve got, I couldn’t be more in love.” The band’s manager Jamie O’Borne revealed over Twitter the true inspiration behind the song: the fans. He says, “It’s about Matty’s love of our amazing community and his fear that he will lose you. It’s a beautiful song. One of the best, actually.” The 1975 and their fanbase are known for their mutual adoration of one another, a timeless love story between a band and their fans.
As the 15th song on the album begins to play, you wonder, “how are they going to bring it all together?” The morbid title of the final track, “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” turns out to be the song we may have needed the most. The faithful cinematic ending opens with, “I bet you thought your life would change, but you’re stuck on a train again.” The song grows into a cathartic confession that lets out a breath we didn’t realize we were holding in. Matty hits an angelic falsetto as he explains how hard it can be to be human, and the reality that everybody feels pain, so we should be celebrating things that make us feel alive like music, art and, of course, love. A monumental ending that the band calls a relic, that makes both fans and band members wonder whether this will be their biggest song yet.
The diamond in the rough as the album ends gives fans hope that this will not be the last they will hear from the band. Although there has been word through the grapevine that The 1975 will be taking their final bows at the end of their 2019 North American Tour, they announced the release of another album, in 2019 called Notes On A Conditional Form. Take it from someone who has listened to the album nonstop since its release last Friday that this album is possibly their greatest yet–––a must-listen! So whether you’ve been here since Music for Cars, only know a couple lines from “Chocolate”, or this is the first you’ve heard of The 1975, plug-in, dance, cry, smile, reflect, and repeat.