Photo Credit: JAELYN HAWKEN, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships is the third edgy installment to The 1975’s discography. Featuring the combination of 80s-esque synth patches and lyrical content pertaining to modern-day societal issues, there is a deeper theme than what is to be expected of a The 1975 album. The album is a little under an hour long and features enough varied content that it doesn’t feel like a drawn out listen.
“Give Yourself a Try” is the 2nd track on A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships and serves as a perfect summary of the themes and direction that the album takes. The melody and beat are very enjoyable, however the distorted guitar is extremely distracting throughout the whole listen. This is one of those tracks that is definitely very close to hitting the mark and could be a radio hit if adjusted slightly. The hook is very appealing and the lyrics aren’t as generic as most songs in this genre.
“Sincerity is Scary” starts with a beautiful, more ambient, electric piano intro juxtaposed by some out-of-sync beats in seemingly random spots. The piece then transitions to a backbeat feel featuring horns and a stronger piano synth patch. The vibe becomes more of a “NeoSoul” feel here and comes off much more modern than the rest of the album. The hook of the piece discusses the singer’s hope to mesh aspects of a friendship and sexual attraction to form a deeper bond rather than just focusing on one or the other. This song in particular seems to be different than the group’s sound previous albums and is a welcomed edition to their catalog of music.
Directly after “Sincerity is Scary”, “I Like America & America Likes Me” is another track that starts with an ambient synth patch. The soothing vibe is immediately interrupted by intense auto-tuned vocals. This song is the complete opposite of “Sincerity is Scary” in almost every way and sounds reminiscent of a typical Hip-Hop song on the radio.
With that said, this album takes many risks. For example, the song “How To Draw / Petrichor” is a 6-minute, bizarre journey through several styles of music. Each time the feel changed, the track became much harder to listen to. Like most tracks on this album, it starts fairly ambient and gets progressively busier as the time goes on. The middle of the song could most accurately be described as an auto-tuned fax machine with a strange beat. The song ends with ambience once again but instead featuring what sounds like someone walking around a rickety wood floor.
While some of the criticism found in this review may sound harsh, The 1975 should actually be applauded for this album. The band took some clear risks here, and while some tracks faired better than others, the album is interesting as a whole and pushes the group in the right direction. If The 1975 keeps this motif up, the next album could be a historical piece of work for the ensemble. As for now, several tracks are pretty good, while the rest are hard to listen to out of context of the album.