A Review of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
On November 31, British pop-rock band The 1975 released their third album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The 1975 have reached tremendous success since their first album, but they took a brief hiatus so that lead singer Matty Healy could receive treatment for heroin addiction. The overall theme of the album is the impact of social media on our relationships, mental health, and lifestyle, along with stories of Healy's drug abuse. It definitely makes listeners question the current age of technology in which we live.
The 1975 starts every album with a remix of the same song, coincidentally titled “The 1975.” In this version, the band sets the tone of the album by manipulating Healy's voice to sound robotic. They similarly make Healy’s voice more electronic in “How to Draw / Petrichor.” Another track, “The Man Who Married a Robot,” is not a song at all, and is instead a poem narrated by Siri. The song brings attention to how bizarre it is that literal robots like Amazon’s Alexa have become so normalized. The theme of the modern technological age is present throughout all the songs on the album, but especially in these following songs.
The 1975 is known for their dance-pop ballads with the main purpose to make people sing at the top of their lungs. The pop-punk track, “Give Yourself a Try,” is a great example of that, and tells listeners that it’s okay to not have the perfect life like people pretend they have on social media. The title of “TOOTIME” is wordplay for the phrase “two-time” and is simply a tune about infidelity, especially over social media where actions such as liking somebody else’s Instagram picture or texting another person, may be considered “cheating.”
The jazz-inspired song, “Sincerity is Scary,” talks about how people tend to hide behind a facade over social media. Matty discusses how being sincere and genuine over the internet is scary and vulnerable, which is why he believes people lie about their image online.
Fans of The 1975 know that the band never shies away from discussing important world issues in their music and the following songs are no different. The song “I Like America & America Likes Me” is a heavily autotuned song with Soundcloud rap vibes about today’s youth and gun violence in America. “Love it If We Made It” is by far my favourite song on the album because it is a song of hope. Healy told online magazine, Pitchfork, that he collected the headlines of newspapers for a year in order to write the song, whose lyrics reference political issues like police brutality, Syrian refugees, and Donald Trump’s presidency. While Healy makes reference to the terrible things happening in the world, he repeats the line “But, I’d love it if we made it,” meaning that he hopes the world will continue to push through the hardships.
The 1975 are also known for their deeply heartbreaking lyrics, which are definitely present in this album. “Mine” and “Be My Mistake” are both melancholic songs about being afraid of commitment and hurting someone who meant a lot to you. The song “Inside Your Mind” is creepy, piano-driven song about wanting to know what your partner is thinking, which includes gruesome, bloody imagery. Healy told Pitchfork, “‘Inside Your Mind’ is just the idea of sometimes wanting to know what your partner is thinking so much that you want to smash their head open to look.”
As previously mentioned, Matty Healy took a break from music to check into a rehabilitation center to overcome his drug abuse, and the next songs express his internal struggle with addiction. “I Couldn’t Be More in Love” seems like a love song, but it’s about struggling with his addiction while making music for his fans. Healy apparently recorded the song the day before he went to rehab, and you can definitely hear the fear and raw emotion in his voice. “Surrounded By Heads and Bodies” is a short piece dedicated to a woman Healy met in his rehab facility and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” is what he calls “the big heroin song,” which explains his addiction in detail.
The album ends with the song, “I Always Want to Die (Sometimes),” which may seem a bit depressing, and while it is about depression, it’s mainly about dealing with mental illness in the age of technology when most of our lives are online for the world to see. Surprisingly, it is a hopeful song about making it through the hard times. The song is the perfect way to end the album, which takes listeners through a range of emotions. The album is such a powerful comeback from The 1975 and I’m so excited for more music in the future!