Let’s get one thing straight, NME can fuck right off. “The millennial answer to OK Computer?” Nah, get in the bin. Equally, Q Magazine are welcome to join NME in the recycling after calling The 1975 “the band of the decade.”
Whilst both publications are entirely correct to say that The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is the band’s best album to date, they need not position themselves quite so far up Matty Healy’s (no doubt nicely trimmed) arsehole that he could be worn like an elaborate hand puppet.
To say there’s a lot to unpack here is an understatement. At times A Brief Inquiry hits the spot of verbalising a lot of millennial fears in the post modern generation, other times it’s fake woke. For the average listener this, like I Like It When You Sleep, is a singles album. Was there really a need to make Siri do ‘The Man Who Married A Robot/ Love Theme’? Probably not.
In terms of narrative there’s been a clear shift as Healy’s life has also taken a clear shift since ILIWYS, moving away from heroin addiction and mocking fame since going to rehab after the end of the ILIWYS tour cycle. There’s a maturity to a lot of the album that isn’t to be understated.
The songwriting here has been compared to that of McCartney and Lennon, a bold claim that was once again made by none other than NME. It would appear they’ve been up Matty Healy’s arse so long they’ve pitched a tent and put the kettle on. Then again I hear these days all they drink is George Daniels’ bath water.
Dependent on how you view the modern age rockstar, A Brief Inquiry documents either a narcissist on the verge of a psychotic breakdown or a millennial’s attempt at understanding the changing social landscape around them. If you choose to see the latter then the songwriting is perfectly in-touch with the thoughts and fears of our generation.
The production of tracks like ‘The 1975’ and ‘I Like America & America Likes Me’ reach Kanye levels of self-indulgence. Autotune makes them a harder listen that one may be tempted to skip in casual listening. Then again, this album doesn’t appear to be made for easy listening aside from its singles.
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is an interesting album, and one of the first to tackle modernity as a subject. It handles the subject with tact and decorum for the most part. After Arcade Fire’s ‘Creature Comfort’ you’d hope bands would see that putting fans’ suicide to music is irresponsible in any context.
To loop back round to the point, it’s lazy to call A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships the millennial answer to OK Computer. They share a couple of electronic/experimental elements but that’s all. Radiohead’s album is the seminal piece of art we know it as because it was groundbreaking in the 90s, The 1975 now are good, but they’re not groundbreaking. How can you tell it’s not groundbreaking? Almost every review has to reference another album to describe it rather than describe what it’s doing new.
Listen to A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships right here.