Some artists are extremely particular about listeners diving into a new album in the same manner in which they would read a book: from start to finish. Though he’s never said it outright, The 1975’s Matty Healy presents his work like a storybook meant to be listened to in the order it’s been given, track by track. With their new album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, The 1975 have delivered their best music to date.
Fans have been waiting two years for The 1975 to release a new album. Their sophomore album, “I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it” catapulted the band into charts worldwide, which was a step up from their first album, “The 1975” which garnered a following that seemingly never stretched past their UK fanbase. The band has been a work in progress; “I like it when you sleep” introduced an arguably more poetic set of lyrics mixed in with smash hits like ‘The Sound’ and ‘Somebody Else’. The band headlined Madison Square Garden in June of 2017 and four months later Matty Healy checked himself into rehab to kick his heroin addiction.
From an outside perspective, “A Brief Inquiry” seems to have been written from a place deep inside of Healy that wanted forgiveness, perhaps from himself. On the second track of the album, “Give Yourself A Try”, Healy sings about lessons he’s learned, mental illness, social anxiety, fame, and addiction in an upbeat 3-minute timeframe. Should you listen to the song and ignore the lyrics, you’d find yourself dancing to the beat. This is something that The 1975 have capitalized on – their ability to mix a fantastic record fit for a dance floor that simultaneously touches on extremely heavy lyrics. As one Twitter fan noted: “The 1975 makes music for sad people who want to be happy”.
“Love It If We Made It”, which the band released as a single prior to the album release, doesn’t go out of its way to disguise any lyrics. Singing direct quotes from Donald Trump (“I moved on her like a bitch”) and name-dropping Kanye West and his “unrequited house with seven pools”, Healy pulls headlines from around the world to deliver a song for the times. He’s angry, singing about “a beach of drowning three-year-olds”, exclaiming that “modernity has failed us”. His target audience is built up of millennials – Healy being one himself – and Gen Z, and he delivers the pain that all of us are feeling inside when we pick up a newspaper.
Healy presents “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” in true 1975 fashion – upbeat with a full chorus line. Listen to the lyrics, though, and you’ll discover that the song is about heroin – not a lover. Healy has stated in recent interviews that he had two options when it came to his heroin addiction: he could glamorize it or be honest about it; he chose honesty. “It’s Not Living” is blunt with Healy singing about having to search the streets for a fix while on vacation, “I can’t stop sweating or control my feet / I’ve got a twenty-stone monkey that I just can’t beat”.
The best song on the album, in my opinion, was saved for last. “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” closes out the album and simultaneously sounds and reads as if Healy is physically closing a book. The song sounds like something that came from the early 2000s, perhaps something we would have heard on the soundtrack for A Walk To Remember (think: “Dare You To Move” by Switchfoot). “You win, you lose, you sing the blues / There’s no point in buying concrete shoes” – the song circles back to “Give Yourself A Try”; Healy is pulling from his own struggles and giving his audience a pep talk to keep going. It is truly music for sad people who want to be happy.
“An Inquiry Into Online Relationships” is available now. The 1975 have announced that they are also working on a fourth studio album, “Notes On A Conditional Form” which is due out in 2019. Check out their tour schedule here.