Review Summary: We live in a society
I’ll admit that I’ve never actually listened to The 1975 properly before. The few fleeting times I’ve heard their music would be easing out of a distorted shopping mall system or maybe at a party, I’d pleasantly Bop my head but i was never really motivated to see what the fuss was about with them. Their recent release has changed that. A slew of high acclaim has greeted the group’s third album ‘A Breif Inquiry into Online Relationships’, with a few select reviewers pinning it down as the group’s finest work and “OK Computer for millennials”. I was intrigued. How couldn’t I be" Radiohead are ***ing rad. Not wanting to dive straight into the one album that is supposedly far out of their others, I grabbed my phone, smashed in my headphones and I listened to a few of their earlier tracks, a few pleasantly catchy pop rock tunes.Easy to see what made them big. Moving from that, I put on their latest and I emerged an hour later, satisfied and with a bit of a grin on my face.
A Brief Inquiry is an interesting beast. While not to far thrown from the group’s earlier records, it takes time to branch out into more interesting fields. The group’s usual territory of catchy synth/pop rock has a notable prescience on the album, with all large amount of the tracks being obviously tailor made to be screamed along to at a concert. There are a few detours however. And they’re what make the record noteworthy. Amongst the snappy pop of tracks like ‘Give Yourself A Try’ and the stadium stomper ‘Love It If We Made It’, there’s an oddball like the jazzy ‘Sincerity is Scary’ and ‘Mine’, the crunchy IDM flavoured ‘How To Draw/Petrichor’ and the ‘Fitter Happier’ knockoff ‘The Man Who Married A Robot/Love Theme’. They’re odd odd songs and I doubt that the group’s main fan base of 15 year old girls will be particularly moved and thrilled by them at all. But they’re unique experiments for a group that sticks mainly to playing it safe.
If I command the group, it’s that they know how to write a melody. And they do a damn fine job. ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ has the backing of some of the catchiest ***ing melodies of 2018. Perfectly atmospheric, energetic and at times subdued and moving, each track is laced with excellent craftsmanship musically. Sincerity is Scary stands out in particular as a freaky number which morphs from a jazz fuelled midnight cruise to a slow club jam before easing back to the beginning again. ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ is obnoxiously catchy and disgustingly sweet, teetering on bubblegum pop and the singalong chimes of ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ hosts debatably the best hook of the year. The slower numbers are dominated by ambience and softness. ‘Surrounded by Heads and Bodies’ uses a soothing drum shuffle and a calming flute melody to great effect and ‘I Couldn’t Be More In Love’ is Michael Jackson tier quiet storm dream pop which hits with a tasteful guitar solo. Overall, it’s a strong strong record melodically, every note fits well into place and it’s all fine tuned to perfection which is probably exactly how it’s meant to be.
Lyrically is where things take a turn for the worse. The group aren’t exactly known for being poets and the cracks show here definitely. The record is a much more serious work than their other records so the occasionally dodgy lyric sticks out painfully. Sincerity is Scary May be a damn fine song but calling someone a sket isn’t going to fly well with many people, and the line sinks like a rock. ‘Love It If We Made It’ gives us the well meaning but unbearably cringy ‘Rest In Peace, Lil’ Peep’ line. In fact most of the lyrics from that song are pretty horrendous, with the message being nothing more than ‘Modern life is rubbish’. The worst offender is the pleasant acoustic number ‘Be My Mistake’ which contains debatably the worst line in musical history “You do make me hard, but she makes me weak” The album fails to stick to consistent theme mostly, with a large amount of the anti technology based lyrics amounting to “Internet bad talking good”. I suppose if the group started laying down artsy diatribes like Thom Yorke they’d throw the fans in for a loop. It never hurts to try though. The few times the lyrics do it; they hit hard as *** though. ‘Give Yourself A Try’ is both snide as hell and a surprising earnest and truthful look at millennial life and the final track ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ is an explosively powerful number. Still, you have to dig for these ones.
Well what can I say" For my first 1975 album, I’m impressed. A bit befuddled at some of the lyrical choices but none the less impressed. The group have managed to lay down a different and slightly experimental record, but have still managed to keep the stadium powered pop edge their previous records did. It’s a slick, catchy, at times heartbreaking and overall fun album. The OK Computer parallels are a little obvious in places; but the group have taken a great artistic leap, without actually changing much around with their sound. A bit like Radiohead actually. I eagerly await their next album ‘Adult B’
Give Yourself A Try
How to Draw/Petrichor
Sincerity is Scary
It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)
Surrounded by Heads and Bodies
I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)