After teasing fans in typical The 1975 fashion with months of cryptic Instagram posts, the band’s release of the first part of their “Music for Cars” era has proven to be their most purposeful and masterful work, demonstrating a prowess of balancing their typical edgy melancholy sound with an underlying theme to the album. “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships,” released Friday, is the third studio album of the British alternative pop band, refining their trademark eclectic synth pop sound and providing an overall theme on modernity and its relationship with the internet.
With frontrunner Matty Healy’s stint in rehab from heroin addiction during the album’s conception, the history behind the composition is one that can be seen in the spikes of energy and lulls in thought. It plays like a smooth, yet uniquely dynamic journey that is never too radio-friendly, but not eclectic enough to scare off new listeners.
Their usual album opener, “The 1975,” sets the stage for the rest of the album, immersing the listener into an initially quiet interlude that quickly transforms with an intense choir verse. It aptly represents the pace of the remainder of the album, transitioning from more upbeat, heady bops to quiet and introspective songs. Going to the next song, “Give Yourself a Try,” which served as one of the album’s singles, launches the listener into a sound reminiscent of the satiric synth pop songs from their edgy and sometimes dark self-titled album.
“TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” carries the effervescent pop sound from the previous song with the band’s characteristically eclectic and stylized titles that are always present in the band’s music, before transitioning to the long instrumental introduction of “How to Draw/Petrichor.”
“Be My Mistake” draws back the electric beats with a minimalist guitar strum and Healy’s raw and emotional voice. “Sincerity is Scary” again demonstrates the balance of songs by taking the tempo back up with a jazzy and upbeat chorus. The choir in the background only emphasizes the band’s purposeful grandness.
“I Like America and America Likes Me” is one of their most auto-tuned songs, heavily relying on electric beats. “The Man Who Married a Robot/Love Theme” is the band’s most original track, not even featuring a melody nor Healy’s vocals. Instead, it is the story of a Twitter user falling in love with the internet, narrated by the male Siri voice from Apple products. It is the most overt song that capitalizes on the technology theme and appropriately appears in the middle of the track listing to subtly remind the listener of the album’s theme and purpose.
“Inside Your Mind,” “Surrounded by Heads and Bodies” and the penultimate song on the album are all more introspective tracks with stripped-back vocals and instrumentals. They all showcase Healy’s recognizable voice that masterfully carries emotion.
“It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You”), “Mine” and “I Always Want to Die (Sometimes)” are all more upbeat and uplifting-sounding songs with Healy’s mellow voice, punctuated by jazzy tones and reminiscent of the sophomore album’s grandioseness. The lyrics are still cryptic but can be deciphered to truly stick to the theme. The final song gears the listener up to go out with a bang, sounding melancholy but uplifting, which is ironic considering the song’s lyrics. “I Couldn’t Be More in Love” is one of the more unique songs, serving as a sultry anthem with minimalist instrumentals.
The 1975’s new album rises above its predecessors with a tight theme that still leaves the album open to explore a balance of instrumental sections for listeners to introspect on the technological metaphor, while still providing some more lyrical tracks for fans to decode. Their trademark edginess, which at first appeared shallow and trivial, has matured into recognizable ethereal and pop synth themes with their songs. The theme of man’s relationship with technology and how their relationships are influenced by it is strongly relevant but doesn’t appear trite. If anything, the theme largely fits in with the band’s sound that draws upon electric beats and auto-tune and utilizes them to tailor their style. Many of the album’s songs explore the idea of interactions and relationships, often influenced by the internet, but it doesn’t feel like a departure from the previously less structured albums. If anything, it feels like a natural evolution and progression.
The 1975 will return in early spring with the second part of the “Music for Cars” era, “Notes on a Conditional Form,” which will be released in May 2019. I may be biased, having been a fan since their first EP, but I don’t mind giving praise to a band that continually gets better with each album.
Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.