A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
Audacity is the 1975’s bread and butter — no idea is too bold, no question too messy. So when word came that the English quartet were planning on releasing not one, but two new albums in the span of six months, it was taken with a shrug, because of course they were. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, the first of those two, was preceded by half-a-dozen sonically divergent singles bound together by the band’s ineffable ability to weave influences past and present into something wholly new and familiar. It’s what’s allowed the group, spearheaded by singer and songwriter Matty Healy, to build upon each release without succumbing to bloated rock band clichés — at least not without the requisite self-aware quip to bring the whole thing back down to Earth.
Of course, that was before Healy fell prey to perhaps the biggest rock star clichés of them all: drug addiction and rehab. Yet he’s responded to his personal travails by ditching ironic detachment and embracing a newfound sincerity and emotional vulnerability.
Most of the album’s big highlights have already seen the light of day — the bubbling effervescence of “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME,” the pointed and plaintive “Love It If We Made It” — but even interstitial tracks that sew the record’s 15 songs together feel essential to its being. Much has been made over the years of the 1975’s status as a rock band operating at a pop music level. But it’s their willingness to fall flat on their face while swinging for the fences that separates them from the focus-grouped inoffensiveness of their pop peers. The messiness of the whole thing seems to be the point, part of its audacity. In most artists’ hands, that would be a recipe for creative bloat. Yet more than ever before, the 1975 prove themselves masters of the form. (Dirty Hit/Polydor)
When did the album’s title come about? Were you writing songs to fit that theme?
Healy: I wasn’t thinking “Oh I want to write a record about, you know, how we communicate with technology.” I just realized that if you write a record about relationships in the modern day, and how they’re are mediated, you kind of start making a record about the internet by proxy because it’s such a total experience. The online experience, it is the human experience.
You seem totally disinterested in evoking nostalgia with your music.
I find it interesting when young bands do that, because I feel part of a generation that isn’t interested in those kind of things. It just doesn’t seem very reflective of the environment. Maybe it’s because I’m a modernist — we just like new shit. I appreciate old stuff and I love culture, therefore my relationship with history is as excitable as anybody else’s, but I still want to create something new.