Fans of The 1975 are prepared for that same song each time they hit play on a new 1975 record. It's just another reason the British rock group is unlike any of its time, constantly blending a sense of loving nostalgia with electronic synthesizers and gospel choirs alike. A band-named track, "The 1975" appears as the introduction to each new album the band imagines, and the first notes of A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships are no different.
This time, "The 1975" is monumental with synthesizers that shadow the early work of Kanye West or even the later days of Bon Iver. But it's still uniquely The 1975. "Go down, go down, soft sound," Matty Healy's overproduced vocals echo with a powerful, front-of-house effect that will send a smile to any longtime fan's face. It's familiar, but refreshing, and undeniably show-stopping.
The same can be said for the album as a whole, one that eclipses the golden past products of one of the world's fastest growing bands. The collection is melancholy and true, with a few bops that echo the danceability and lightheartedness of the band's beloved sound. But A Brief Inquiry may be the most emotionally raw and thoughtful project the band has produced thus far.
Acoustic and mellow tracks like "Be My Mistake" and "Inside Your Mind" seem to control the album's feeling, one that welcomes a new era with a depth and warmth that can only come from a sort of self-reflection, much seemingly inspired by relationships and Healy's decision to get help for his heroin addiction. The danceability is not limited on the album but shares equal space with songs that feel like glue, mending broken points with words of honest explanation.
Fans may take comfort in not only the moments that bring them joy but the expose of Healy's darker moments—see radio-ready "It's Not Living If It's Not With You, written about heroin or "Mine," a delightfully loving, old Hollywood ode to a girlfriend he just can't marry.
Healy left a note to the long-time fans in "I Couldn't Be More In Love," a track about his fears of losing his loyal fans. It's a gospel choir, an electronic beast and an emotional outpouring in one, and arguably emits more emotion than any of the band's former releases.
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is proof the band can do it all. From instrumentally-based "Sincerity Is Scary" and electronically-dictated story "The Man Who Married A Robot / Love Theme" to energetic "TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME" and the serene and content conclusion of "I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)", the band has created yet another album that refuses to define a genre, a talent or a sound. Instead, it defines the band as a shape-shifting, yet loyal entity that continues to produce innovative and creative albums that never stray too far from what their fans love the most: their ability to create a masterpiece of any concept, sound or message.