Listen to “Altuesdays Episode 5: The 1975’s “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships”” on Spreaker.</a>
British pop-alternative band The 1975 have been one of the rarest phenomena in music history. Each of their studio albums have set a new precedent for aesthetics and sounds, all while maintaining the army of teenage and mid-20 something fans they have. From their ability to make a neon rectangle their iconic symbol, to their harshly realistic lyrics highlighting the truths of society today, they have been nothing less than iconic.
Choosing their most iconic album is a difficult task, to say the least. Their sounds vary with each new era they venture into, and their image does as well. Despite having a relatively cohesive sound in general, the band still manages to break barriers with new and more creative elements to their music. However, their most iconic album, in general, would have to be their third studio album, “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships”.
The opening track, 1975, can’t be ranked. The track itself is the first opening track on every one of their studio albums, but is changed slightly in terms of key and pitch, using newer sounds and instruments on each new album as a means to present the sound of the album on a pre-set basis. While the track does do a nice job of opening the new sounds to be established on the album, it’s nothing special in comparison to the rest of the album.
Give Yourself a Try is the first notable song on this album with its own story to tell. In all honesty, it’s a borderline obnoxious song with too much synth, but the lyrical meaning folds together to provide listeners with an understanding that the song is meant to sound conflicting as it presents a more self-deprecating but hopeful view on the younger generation of millennials, including lyrics of fads and trends. Overall, the song itself achieves a higher level of understanding and new sound The 1975 had yet to achieve on their previous albums and truly opens feeling like a new, reinvented band.
The third track, TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME is most definitely a basic song in every facet. The backtracking instrumentation is filled with more synth and computerized sounds than actual instruments, Matty Healy’s voice is edited to a robotic nature, and the lyrics hold no true value. Other than the fact that the song is catchy, it holds almost no weight on the actual album. Healy’s lyricism has always been on a more literal basis, , yet this song even fails to provide anything above a surface-level poem about mistrust in a modern relationship.
Possibly one of the most notable songs in The 1975’s discography is their fifth track, Love It If We Made It. The song is truly a brutalizing listen with evidently true lyrics listening not only to the problems and injustices of the world but additionally ending every verse with more philosophical lyrics, possibly the most iconic being “modernity has failed us”. The song together is brilliantly crafted with the perfect balance between realism and optimism. The chorus preached over and over the phrase “love it if we made it”, reciting the belief and hope that the younger generation will “make it” to something better, in direct contrast to every problem mentioned in the song including climate change, the prison industrial complex, and protests by young people.
The sixth track, Be My Mistake, reflects turmoil on a much deeper level of, represented by a singular melancholy guitar and piano, unlike any other track heard on the album thus far. Yet the greater, again simplistic, lyricism by Healy represents a form of guilt that carries this album in terms of deeper meaning, isolating it to this singular track.
Sincerity is Scary is an odd mixture of melancholy lyrics and sound with a relatively upbeat instrumental. The true weight of this song comes as almost a sequel in my mind to Be My Mistake, where instead of just feeling guilty, Healy exemplifies the feeling of additionally being scared to actually be sincere and provide a form of empathy when presented through a screen. The commentary here is shown through the perfect balance of satirical wordplay on common phrases made different to a point where we prevent ourselves from actually relating to others, such as “I’m sure you’re not just ‘another girl’”.
The eighth track, I Like America & America Likes Me, is probably the worst track on the entire album. To be frank, the band attempted to make a really impactful song but attempted to do so on a backtrack of absolutely atrocious EDM and even worse autotune. In all truth, it’s a naive outlook written about students in America, yet fails to actually present it in any listenable way between the sounds and lyrics.
Jumping to the 11th track on the album, It’s Not Living If It’s Not With You, can be deemed the most popular song on the album, ranging from decent radio play to being used as a TikTok sound. Yet the meaning is anything but surface level as it unveils the difficulty Healy has faced throughout his career with serious substance abuse and highlights the normality of substance abuse amongst a regular group as well. It’s a take similar to Third Eye Blind’s Semi-Charmed Life, as it takes a serious and dangerous subject, blanketing it in pop sounds and a bright outlook on the surface level, with a much deeper meaning into the struggles of addiction.
The second to last track, I Couldn’t Be More In Love, is the epitome of the last quarter of the album, where the sounds suddenly slow down and become more natural, yet Healy’s vocals have never been stronger. While the lyrics are mediocre, they fit the romantic feel the song holds, and additionally help to elevate Healy’s desperate voice with more emotion than ever heard on the album.
The final song on the album, I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes), is most definitely the best song on this album. It’s the perfect closer in terms of combining the slower songs on the album with the more sped-up sounds, with Healy’s most basic yet absolutely powerful lyricism yet. The truth of the song comes from a universal experience of human curiosity, yet urging individuals to understand that life is worth living no matter how hard it may be. Much of the beauty of the song comes from the strategic and small metaphors, such as the illusion of owning “concrete shoes”. This is the most chilling song on the album with beauty still present in the idea of normalizing experiences that we as people typically prefer to isolate ourselves in.
While this album is ranked both the best and iconic amongst fans and reviewers, the true weight and quality of this album comes from the universal experiences young people today are enduring as illustrated by simplistic, non-layered lyrics by Healy. In all truth, this is by no means a legendary album in terms of sounds, but because of the deeper themes and timeliness, the album does deserve a place on the pedestal of good alternative albums by good alternative bands.