The 1975
A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships


3.8
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
November 30th, 2018 | 257 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A batch of quality pop songs – nothing more, nothing less.

One of the things that has become increasingly popular in internet publications is shock statements. Headlines that make you go “wow” and compel you to give that website a view…you know, click-bait. Music review websites are often just as guilty of doing the same thing, excitedly proclaiming someone as the savior of rock every year or hailing an album as a generational statement. The 1975 have been praised a lot recently, especially with the release of A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships – which has already been crowned as the OK Computer of this generation. Okay. It’s declarations like this that seem to fuel the already rapidly intensifying hyperpolarization of musical opinions within online communities. It often feels like something is either “the greatest album ever” or it’s not worth listening to at all. There is an in between, and that’s where The 1975 reside. They’re a talented band that blends 80’s rock-influences with modern electronic pop, and A Brief Inquiry, while far from groundbreaking, is still an excellent record.

A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships essentially has three modes. There are your synth-hyper, all-out poppers like ‘Give Yourself a Try’ or ‘It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You’, and they seem to exist in the largest batch. There are also your ambient/electronic noodlers, such as the vocoder-infused ‘How to Draw / Petrichor’, which believe it or not recalls recent Justin Vernon works (in particular 22, A Million). Finally, there are your gently strummed ballads – before it was ‘Nana’ and ‘Paris’, here it’s ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ and ‘Be My Mistake’, among several others. The 1975 have become quite adept at all three styles, and every album in their career thus far has featured an aesthetically pleasing balance of everything in their arsenal. Therein lies The 1975’s actual appeal; it’s not that they’re visionaries, it’s that they care a whole lot about their craft and refuse to put out subpar material. In an era where music is written as quickly as possible and thrown against the wall to see what sticks among active streamers, that’s a commendable trait.

That’s not to say that there isn’t evolution. In a side-by-side comparison with I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, this album is decidedly even more mainstream and electronic in its approach, especially in the application of synthesizers and vocoder vocals where previous albums sounded less futuristic. There’s also a pretty noticeable turn from away from midtempo pacing (‘Change of Heart’, ‘She’s American’) and towards thoughtful crooners (about half of Inquiry). The midtempo “rockers” that remain are executed extremely well, with ‘Love It If We Made It’ serving as a more powerful ‘Somebody Else’ – only with better lyrics about the hardening stances of society (“Oh *** your feelings, truth is only hearsay / We're just left to decay, modernity has failed us”) – and ‘It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You’ feeling like the best 80’s pop song that never happened until now (and is subsequently the best pop song of 2018 – fight me). The aforementioned abundance of ballads are also, for the most part, done extremely well. While ‘Be My Mistake’, ‘Inside Your Mind’, ‘Surrounded By Heads and Bodies’, ‘Mine’, ‘I Couldn’t Be More In Love’, and ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ all feel sincere and romantic, the best of the downtempo tracks has to be ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ – a slightly funky, offbeat lounge/jazz influenced song that feels like it could be the next logical step for this band.

If you’re expecting me to now list the ways in which Inquiry falters, you’ll be disappointed. The album isn’t as hit-or-miss as you might expect an ambitious pop album to be; it maintains a uniform level of quality craftsmanship. ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ might be the lone exception – a heavily overproduced single with a slightly irritating melody that ruins the album’s early flow. Outside of that, there are merely tracks that underwhelm in comparison to the record’s stronger moments – a subjective endeavor that’s not really worth undertaking/analyzing. In itself, consistency might be The 1975’s greatest improvement over I Like It When You Sleep – an album that could have been trimmed down to ten songs and been infinitely better off for it. The peaks here don’t quite aspire to ‘Change of Heart’, ‘Paris’, or some of that album’s top highlights, but Inquiry is an enjoyable experience from start to finish that requires no reordering, playlist-creating, or picking/choosing of any sort.

A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships does a lot of things well. In remarkably consistent fashion, it fuses jazz, electronica, rock, and pop. The album simultaneously broadens and softens The 1975’s sound, adding some very welcome experimental brushstrokes while turning the momentum towards downtempo rhythms and acoustic balladry. They’ve also crafted some tunes that belong among the best pop songs of the year (especially ‘It’s Not Living’). It’s an impressive album, even if it remains mostly in-bounds of what you’d expect. Great albums don’t need to define a generation or open doors to other worlds, they just need to make great music - and Inquiry does exactly that. It’s a batch of quality pop songs – nothing more, nothing less.




Recent reviews by this author
Molly Burch First FlowerMadeline Kenney Perfect Shapes
Aphex Twin CollapseFrog Whatever We Probably Already Had It
William Ryan Key VirtueMae Multisensory Aesthetic Experience
user ratings (192)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Will R. EMERITUS (2)
The 1975’s OK Computer....

Drbebop (4)
We live in a society...



Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
November 30th 2018


28692 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

my rebuttal to some pretty far-off assessments floating around out there...I won't name names.

Digging: Madeline Kenney - Perfect Shapes

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
November 30th 2018


24200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this seems about right tbh

SweeneyTodd
November 30th 2018


1793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

agreed 100%, album is excellent, some of the softer acoustic songs drag on, and the second half of How to Draw is pretty dull but other than that this stands up with the rest of their discography. They're due to release another album next year which will apparently be much more electronic

Digging: The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 30th 2018


28692 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

yeah I totally forgot to make a mention of the sister album coming out next year, oh well.

Gyromania
November 30th 2018


26088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah a 4 seems accurate. i enjoy most of it, but some songs are a bit boring. i've played "it's not living" like 20 times since hearing it lol.

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 30th 2018


28692 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Yeah that song is insanely infectious.

Gyromania
November 30th 2018


26088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

just a fun feel-good album all around. been listening to a lot of melancholic shit lately, and a decent bit of metal, so this was a nice change of pace for me

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
November 30th 2018


24200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah so i rly dig the run between how to draw - i like america..

slows down a ton after that but last two songs are super good. experimentation in How to Draw is super cool, the text to speech thing is super cringy, some obv mainstream pop songs and some just rly boring ballads but overall I dug

IndieMetal
November 30th 2018


17 Comments


Haven't listened to the album yet, but made the mistake of reading the Pitchfork review. Dear Lord. Have the review is psychoanalyzing the frontman and the other half is big sweeping statements about the cultural significance of the album with nary a single mention of what the music, you know, actually sounds like when you listen to it.

trackbytrackreviews
November 30th 2018


3369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nothing as good as The Sound in this but still good



Also I’m glad someone agrees with me that Too Time is annoying, specially that chorus

ABond
November 30th 2018


328 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I mean, it's good, there is no denying, but I fail to see how this is fundamentally different from stuff like Imagine Dragons or The Chainsmokers, bar slightly better lyricism.

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 30th 2018


28692 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

oh it's way better than them lol

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
November 30th 2018


24200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it's like that sweet spot between bands trying too hard to be mainstream and indie but sometimes it seems like these guys are trying too hard to be "woke" when theyre just an indie pop band

pjquinones747
November 30th 2018


2746 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Bumping this and Astroworld together just feels right.

Digging: Travis Scott - Astroworld

TooManyFriends
November 30th 2018


2946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

this shit is literally magnitudes better than imagine dragons or the chainsmokers. don't even know how you can listen to how to draw or surrounded by heads and bodies (underrated album highlight imo) and even make the comparison

ABond
November 30th 2018


328 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

"oh it's way better than them lol"



Same plastic and sterile production, same aiming for Hot 100 at the expense of doing anything interesting. You can almost hear them holding back from taking any of these tracks into territory that might demand the audience actually pay attention. They pull from a wider and more inspired pool of influences, and are definitely better, but not so much better so as to actually be fundamentally different.

DoofDoof
November 30th 2018


1170 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

'literally magnitudes better than imagine dragons or the chainsmokers'



agreed, need to make the distinction between 0.1/5 and 0.6/5 ratings now

Digging: The Bathers - Sweet Deceit

Dylan620
November 30th 2018


4355 Comments


That is one weird bar chart

Average rating 3.5, mode rating 4.5

Digging: Lucy Dacus - Historian

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 30th 2018


28692 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

I mean you're not 100% off base, like I agree with the general premise that these guys play up to an easy-to-please audience and make digestible pop. But at the same time their production is not even in the same universe as ID or CS, there's a whole lot more to these songs (including better lyrics), and the songwriting/instrumentation is better across the board. They also write a wider variety of songs, as opposed to recreating the same thing every single time (like ID especially). To me that's enough to make them fundamentally different. The only real similarity IMO is that they all make pop music.

ABond
November 30th 2018


328 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

"The only real similarity IMO is that they all make pop music."



Not just that, but an "easy-to-please" and "digestible pop". The Voidz also came out with a varied catchy pop album this year, but a much better one. Although I agree that the instrumentation is better across the board, I definitely disagree with the production being better. Everything sounds plastic and "we fixed this in pro-tools". The distinguishing variety that differentiates this from ID and CS is why this is good and not the utter trash barely deserving of 1/5 rating that those bands make, especially in the ballads department, this at least sounds charming.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy