I walked into A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships having never listened to a note of music from The 1975 prior. Sure I’ve seen the name over the years on various music sites and concert posters in New York City but I never engaged the music until now. I only really took notice when comparisons with Radiohead’s Ok Computer started popping up online. Led by lead singer Matty Healy making the very first allusion to it over a year before its release. Those are big time claims and being a massive Radiohead fan, I decided to jump in and investigate those bold proclamations. The gauntlet has been thrown down. Will The 1975 answer it’s call?
To be honest, the album sounds nothing like Ok Computer sonically. The production is way too pristine and upbeat for Radiohead despite some really dark lyrical content from Healy. The only true hallmarks of Radiohead’s musical footprint can be found on “How to Draw / Petrichor” which sounds like Kid A noodling meets Aphex Twins’ “Girl/Boy Song”, “Be My Mistake” and “Surrounded by Heads and Bodies” that share different elements of “True Love Waits”. The former borrows ideas from the “True Love Tape Loop” and the latter from the acclaimed acoustic rendition found on I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings. The homage gathering the most attention is “The Man Who Married a Robot / Love Theme” with its robot/Siri/Alexa like voice over narration. I’m not too keen on the robot’s commentary but the background music is beautiful and again harks back to the “True Love Tape Loop” as mentioned previous.
What A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships does contain in its 58 minutes is harsh critiquing of today’s modern society and the way millennials behave within it. The album is short on solutions to these life headaches but has no problem declaring a list of grievances in grand fashion. Another underlying theme on this record is Healy’s heroin addiction and recovery. Every song you think is about love is actually an ode to heroin. It’s just cleverly disguised. The LP contains three huge bangers, “Love It If We Made It”, “Give Yourself a Try” and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not with You)” which serve as the tent poles for this release. I find great merit in a guitar based band that can still crank out a catchy tune that can currently be heard on what is left of modern radio and rack up huge Spotify streams. I’m curious to see where The 1975 take this newly found universal acclaim and hype. Matty Healy seems like the type of guy who wants to be a huge star, in a huge band and has no problem letting you know that. What makes that even more impactful is he has the music to back up those claims. The band promises their next album will be out by next summer’s festival season that is currently titled Notes on a Conditional Form. We shall see if Matty Healy can find any real emotional connection in society he so desperately is searching for on A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships.