Review: The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

It took a long time for me to get into The 1975. I thought they were another record-company-manufactured English boy band because, if you recall, we were still in the age of One Direction when their first album, The 1975, released in 2013. It wasn’t until 2016 when their second album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it came out that the band caught my interest. Now, both albums are in heavy rotation for me, and I found myself excited for their third.

You can buy or stream a Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships on Apple Music.

According to every signal we got from the band throughout 2018, the album was slated for a release in the summer. We got a single instead, the first of several, and the album got pushed until now. They changed the title from Music for Cars to A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The album is perfectly titled.

At the crux of this album is a picture of today’s society. We’re a generation rampant with social anxiety, and science shows that this is due largely to the presence of the Internet in our lives. We’re constantly within arm’s length of what’s happening in any part of the world, whether it’s positive or negative. Matty Healy and the other members of The 1975 have taken two-and-a-half years forming an album that’s really a plea for change in these habits. Heck, Healy even sings that we should be “going outside” in the lead single, “Give Yourself a Try”. He has seen firsthand the negative effects that fame and constantly being in the spotlight has brought him and is begging us to use responsibility in our social media habits and other personal spheres of influence.

Like the other two albums by The 1975, A Brief Inquiry talks a lot about heroin and other drug use. Healy has excitedly been clean and sober for some time now, but does talk about his experiences in some of the tracks – largely, “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” and “Surrounded By Heads and Bodies”, as well as some smaller references sprinkled in others. Like any medical problem, addiction is so hard to recover from, and Healy tells us that it’s even harder when he is “…connecting with 10,000 people and then going to a hotel room by myself.”

The band prides itself in its creativity. They’re never one to do the same thing twice. Each iteration of the first track on each album, “The 1975”, is composed as an entrance into the world the album intends to transport us to. In their first album, we had songs about partying and doing drugs and other frivolous behavior. In I like it when you sleep, Healy went on a personal journey of introspection. There were songs about drugs and parties, sure, but there was also a song about losing his grandmother, and a song about fighting to find some faith somewhere. Healy had started the growing-up process.

This third album, though, is taking an outrospective look at what’s around him. He sees where he’s failed in relationships because of the intense need to be connected to the rest of the world. He looks at the political climate of the United States and is appalled at what he sees. He wrote a song about gun control.

Sometimes, an album can have such a great lyrical depth that the musical side is left lacking. Not so with A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The band has equally composed a soundtrack that very well may have gotten the point across even without lyrics. Where there are many electronic and computer-y effects toward the beginning, there’s a change in the middle, followed by songs like “Mine”, which is straight-up jazz.

One might say at first glance that the constant stylistic changes don’t work, but it’s The 1975. If they don’t care about what works, why should we? It took me a little while to get used to how the album flows – or rather, doesn’t flow. Each track sits well on its own, but the way it’s all tied together lyrically is enough to counteract how strangely it jumps from both genre to genre and era to era. There are some 80’s inspired synths, and then there’s “Be My Mistake”, a song I could see being performed at a Woodstock Festival.

I would be making a huge mistake if I didn’t draw special attention to the final track. “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” starts like it could be the end-credits track to a sappy emotional movie, but it’s a great picture of how depression can cloud everything. A person who’s deep in that mindset can feel like it’s always been that way, that there’s never been a time they’ve been truly happy. But the truth is, it’s only sometimes. Healy is reminding us to remember the “sometimes.” I think it’s the most beautiful thing The 1975 has offered us, and it’s a perfect ending to an album that is imploring us to live life to the fullest.

Conceptually, the album is wonderful. It puts forth a strong message about how the world desperately needs to change. There are hard-hitting lines about politics, climate change, and even a spoken word about a man who falls in love with the Internet (a.k.a. all of us, in some way or another).

It’s a hard lesson to learn on our own, never mind when we’re being reprimanded for all of these bad habits by a band who we’ve generally just enjoyed the music of. Now they’re asking us to put effort into being present in our daily lives? Yeah, they are. Which is what makes The 1975 so great. They’re obsessed with pushing their own creative boundaries so much, that we’re forced to grow with them. So maybe we should close our browsers, but I think we should keep our headphones plugged in.

5/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Most Anticipated of 2018: #9 The 1975 Cruise into Another Album Cycle

Ever since their debut in 2013, The 1975 have wowed music fans everywhere with their unique expression of pop rock music. They’ve been teasing us for months now about a project called Music for Cars, and after what they accomplished with 2016’s i like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, I’m psyched.

The 1975 never fail to impress when it comes to their experimental view of music and they’ve managed to grow their sound in exciting ways across their first two albums. The band hasn’t given us anything but a title and a potential release date for their third full-length, but that doesn’t mean the buzz will cease. Everyone is excited for the new soundscapes Matty Healy and company have created for us.

The album title is also the name of an EP the band released in 2013, which leads me to believe that they’re returning to their roots. Hopefully they’ll expand on that theme a bit more, because even though I loved i like it when you sleep, I enjoyed the musical direction they took in their first album.

Music for Cars is to be released on both Dirty Hit and Polydor. There’s no preorder, no singles, no videos. Just high expectations. In the meantime, you can listen to the live album they just put out called DH00278.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

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To experience I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It is to somehow concede that The 1975, the self-titled debut album from Brit rock’s hottest band, is substandard or amiss. This is, of course, not true, but everything about The 1975 in the year 2016 seems to want you to feel that way. Or do they?

On looks alone, it’s easy to view I Like it When You Sleep as the band’s big crossover moment. What was once dreary and shrouded in black in white is now buzzing with bright, fluorescent pink light. What once appeared aloof is now standing center stage awash in spotlight. For a band that in the not-too-distant past bristled at notions of boy bandom and pop celebrity, it’s hard not to view this as one giant wink at the camera.

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You can buy I Like It When You Sleep on iTunes.

All of the pieces are in place for what’s building toward an epic rock and roll fairy tale: an enigmatic frontman, sharply self-aware promotion, persistent interest from the press, and a rapidly growing fanbase that’s nearing a fever pitch. Yet for all of the pomp and circumstance swirling about this reintroduction, the music itself sounds shockingly like The 1975. So what the hell is going on?

This isn’t necessarily the metamorphosis you’ve been led to believe it is – it’s just a better, much more satisfying view of the details. You already know that humming synthesizers have replaced a few guitars on I Like It When You Sleep, but the dirty little secret is that the band’s fantastic sense of melody and pop tendencies were actually there all along. I Like It When You Sleep simply capitalizes on those strengths in delightful ways.

Go back and listen to songs like “Settle Down”, “Robbers” and “Girls” from the band’s debut to find the building blocks for “Love Me”, “She’s American” and “The Sound”. Gone is the greyed-out rock façade and in is a band basking in the glow of 80s pop pleasure. The influence runs deep on this record, but The 1975 have managed to turn a trend into something all their own.

I Like It When You Sleep is far more akin to popping ecstasy to fight off the demons than it is to chewing bubblegum. Vocalist Matthew Healy has fully transformed from detached frontman to starkly self-aware singer who appears to be fighting off his own caricature. “It’s not about reciprocation, it’s just all about me / A sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe”, he slurs out on soon-to-be-smash single “The Sound”.

On this venture, Healy has exchanged many of the lovelorn barbs from the band’s debut with razor sharp commentary on fame and success. “Caught up in fashion, Karcrashian panache / And a bag of bash for passion”, he seethes on the ironically titled “Love Me”. Yet there’s still plenty of room here for self-reflection – on the jazzy “If I Believe You”, the atheistic Healy finds himself questioning: “I’m broken and bleeding / And begging for help / And I’m asking you Jesus, show yourself”.

With its constant tonal shifts, I Like It When You Sleep plays much like a cry for help, aided by the album’s constantly evolving soundscape. Here, the band’s music is just as manic as Healy’s own thoughts, refusing to be trapped or pigeonholed. Included are the obvious crossover singles we were promised, but the album’s best moments come in unexpected packages. “Somebody Else” is the sultry, yearning track we’re accustomed to from the band, but this time it’s dressed to the nines in slick synthesizers and rich programmed drums, harkening “Careless Whisper” darkness, only much more distressing . “Get someone you love? / Get someone you need? / Fuck that, get money”, Healy tells himself.

“A Change of Heart” finds the band treading in similarly gentle waters, but this track is less smooth and more defined by odd and blippy electronics, with Healy reflecting on an old flame. It’s here that the singer’s bite returns for a moment, as he sings, “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine / Now you just look like anyone”, mirroring his more delicate side from “Robbers” on the band’s debut: “She had a face straight out a magazine…” It’s the same inverse image of Healy’s take on his own mental health found on 2013’s “Heart Out” and here on “The Sound”.

It’s probably cliché to call I Like It When You Sleep a rollercoaster ride, but the psychological twists and turns are sure to delight many pop fans in search of substance, even if the 74-minute run time leaves some listeners feeling ill. The constant callbacks to The 1975 serve not only as a polite nod to original fans, but also make clear how much the band has grown in terms of songwriting ability in three short years. The depth of Healy’s wicked back and forth struggle, coupled with the new sonic territory simply makes for a superior album in every way.

The 1975 have weathered their fair share of criticism in the time leading up to this release. For anyone who still believes that selling out is a thing or that exchanging guitar riffs for dance beats is an unforgivable sin, I Like It When You Sleep will be just the fodder they need to continue their tirade. There’s a lot to love here for those ready to embrace the band as they are, but there’s plenty to hate if you’re so inclined.

When Kurt Cobain penned “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, the national anthem of rebellion for Gen Xers, he was, in his own words, “trying to write the ultimate pop song.” He succeeded. That unmistakable guitar riff may have incited a collective revolt among the youth, but only by channeling the Pixies. In an unlikely twist, the bright lights, melodic musings and unmistakable smirk of The 1975 on I Like It When You Sleep is just about the most rock and roll thing the band could have done.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.