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A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships by The 1975

By Nicholas A. Prescott
On December 7, 2018

This week was a good one for music. ODESZA, Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj, Earl Sweatshirt, and many more big names released records. I was having trouble deciding which to cover, but when The 1975 came into the mix, the choice was made easy. And my, what a bad choice it was.

Now, I’m not usually unabashedly negative about a record; there’s usually something that I like and even if a record isn’t great, it still has its merits. The 1975’s third studio album (no, I don’t count that other one that isn’t on the market anymore, so yes: third album), “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships” was rather a disappointment. A loud disappointment after nearly three years of waiting.

The record opens with their cornerstone: a song titled “The 1975” which, as usual, sets the tone for the record to come. The song isn’t really intended to be a song, really, so it doesn’t seem fair to judge. One thing it does do well at is preparing you for the noise to come, if only you’re smart enough to see the road sign for what it is.

The first three tracks are loud and seem like attempts to cement the group as the pop-band that Healey, the lead singer, intends them to be. Unfortunately for The 1975, they’re still listed under the “alternative” genre. Make of that what you will. The second half/song of track three, “How to Draw / Petrichor” is the first real dive into familiar 1975 territory. Unfortunately, it seems to be more of a mocking of the band’s old sound than much else.

Track five finally gets to what I signed up for. The song relies on its clever lyricism to pull the loud and odd sounds of the beat all together. While catchy and fun to listen to, it’s a bit slow and comes dangerously close to Lil Wayne levels of autotuned (though not nearly as much as some of the other songs on the record).

Track seven, “Sincerity Is Scary” is the first real song that seems to hit on the old success of the band. The song is upbeat, fun, and even hosts a muted trumpet in the background to give it a sincere, jazzy feel. It was at this point that I began to realize that the record was trying to hinge more on its clever lyricism than anything else. For this, I commend the album. Unfortunate that the realization came so late in the affair, though.

I’m going to skip ahead to track 11, “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” because everything that is unholy lies between tracks 7 and 11.

Probably my favorite track on the record, “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” set up high hopes early on. I was glad to find the song didn’t do a quick u-turn into dangerous territory very quickly.

Some esoteric and boring songs come next, but the album rounds out on “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” which channels sappy 2000’s pop-punk meshed with Weezer-esque changes in pace and tone. Sadly, the slow parts, unlike Weezer, had a tendency to put me to sleep more than anything else.

Sadly, the record was a bit of a disappointment. Luckily there were a few playlist gems hiding out within it. If you’re looking to find the old 1975 you fell in love with, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is not for you. If you’re looking for something wacky and weird… well, then, maybe it is. 

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