As I sit here looking at a blank page, pondering about how I’m going to approach writing about The 1975’s gargantuan third album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, I turn to my dear friend procrastination and flick open Twitter on my iPhone. After a few minutes of scrolling through an endless timeline, disgusted and amused simultaneously, I had the belated (and probably way too obvious) realization that A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is an exploration of our codependency of the things – whether it’s drugs, sex, the internet – we use to temporarily numb the sting of loneliness.
Much has been written about The 1975’s leader Matty Healy decision to spend six weeks in a rehab facility in Barbados to fight his addiction to heroin – a stint that helped Healy reflect not only on his life, but the lives he was affecting. His decision to get clean came shortly after the band started writing A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, so unsurprising a lot of the lyrical content is derived from the recovering addict’s time spent in therapy.
Instead of posting each individually, here’s a roundup of The 1975 content from around the internet today. Some interviews, some reviews. This should keep you busy through the weekend.
Counter-culture will always exist. If loads of teenagers see grown-ups screaming into the internet then they’re probably going to go, ‘I’m not going to do that, because that’s for grown-ups.’ That’s kind of how cultural movements work. There’s a reason that every single teenager has a Polaroid camera now, and we sell vinyl at a rate that hasn’t been as big since the 80s. There’s this reversion to tactility and authenticity, and it’s a counter-cultural movement that’s really interesting.
“Is this record better than the first record?” Matty asks himself, thinking out loud. “It depends. It depends what your gauge is. My intention was always to soundtrack the lives of young people, or myself and by proxy the lives of young people. So, if your barometer of success or quality is how much it’s done that, then the first album is better. The first album is more nostalgic and wrapped up in peoples adolescence and journey, so it is kinda silly of me to sit here and boringly say ‘this is our best record’ because it’s a bit of a cop-out. It’s just an easy answer to sound confident.”
That’s because, even as they prepare to tour A Brief Inquiry, the 1975 are hard at work on their next album, Notes on a Conditional Form, which they hope to release in June. “Notes is a U.K. nighttime record,” he says, citing the Streets and Burial as touchstones. “I’ve spent so much of my life in vans and cars, stopping off at a McDonald’s when you don’t want McDonald’s. I wanted to make a record that reminds me of that.”
Not only does it tune your voice, it stops it, compresses it, punctuates it. It turns it into an instrument. But also, this song started out as an homage to SoundCloud rap. It’s the sound of America to me at the moment. I was almost going to put it out with just mumble lyrics, to see how far I could take it.
Make art and stand by it. Don’t make art that’s not political then expect us to listen to you. I see artists and their main projection isn’t related to their music. If it was in the music I wouldn’t have a problem, but it seems opportunistic when it’s not. It’s easy to learn the rhetoric of the left. Of course racism’s bad, of course women must be heard. Let’s make something inspiring that isn’t just part of this stream of fucking talking, right? Do I sound like an arse?
Music Forum: A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
Dan Stubbs, writing for NME:
A Cole Porter-like jazz song sounds like a standard and has the killer lyric “I fight crime online sometimes”; a new wave pop song is outwardly about love but is not so subtly an ode to heroin (“I’ve got a 20-stone monkey on my back”), there’s a fragile, beautiful ballad about guilt, one song employs the kind of plastic piano sound last heard on Glenn Medeiros’s ‘Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You’; a ‘90s-style alt-rock track, ‘I Always Wanna Die Sometimes’, is a stirringly moving song about depression; a spoken word piece, voiced by Siri, skewers our relationship with the internet in a modern parable. And even in this jumbled up state, it sounds like a masterpiece, a game-changer, a bar-raiser. An absolute stone cold legend masterpiece. It sounds like they’ve done what Matty said all that time ago: they’ve made ‘OK Computer’ for a new generation of kids – ’Snowflake Computer’, if you will.