The 1975’s Triumphant Return
By Amelia Johnson
A much-hyped album for longtime fans and newer listeners alike, the 1975’s third studio album – A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships – dropped at midnight November 30. This album can be described as nothing less than an awakening. At 15 tracks, ABIIOR is just under an hour of funky beats, barebones instruments, and emotion. Every song bleeds talent and innovation, but in an ever-growing culture of apathy, where many artists either delay or refrain from political discourse to avoid alienating an audience, ABIIOR is particularly strong where it forces you to pay attention.
“Jesus save us. Modernity has failed us.”
An early single from the album, “Love It If We Made It,” previewed this new political direction without subtly. Among the fragmented lyrics were two direct quotes from Donald Trump: “I moved on her like a bitch” from the infamous Access Hollywood tape leaked before the 2016 election and “Thank you, Kanye, very cool,” which Trump tweeted following Kanye West’s strange and shocking endorsement of him earlier this year. It wove myriads of political problems into four minutes with other references like “a beach of drowning three year olds” referring to a heartbreaking picture of a young Syrian refugee washed up on a beach in 2015 and “selling melanin and then suffocate the black men” referencing the simultaneous fetishizing and oppressing of black people in American society.
ABIIOR in its full form elucidates the political amongst overarching themes of the failures of modernity and faults of technology.
At the dead-center of the track listing is “I Like America & America Likes Me” which at a sound-level seems to echo the dreaminess more associated with their previous albums, but speaks very clearly to the gun problem plaguing America.
“I’m scared of dying.”
“Kids don’t want rifles. They want Supreme.”
“Would you please listen?”
This median track is a high point and an open wound of the album, dragging the desperation that many of us have felt about our current America from deep within us and hanging it off a heavily auto-tuned beat for the world to witness.
Other high points include the later tracks that depart from the usual style of the band, like “I Couldn’t Be More in Love” which is said to be about the band’s fans and “I Always Want to Die (Sometimes)” that almost sounds like an early 2000’s acoustic pop song (fitting since David Campbell, who worked on the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” worked on it) and then evolves into an emotional, triumphant, vivacious end for the album.
Some people have expressed disappointment with the album, said that the catchier songs are not catchy enough or that the slower songs do not resonate in the same way as those from earlier albums, but I have come to this conclusion:
Resist the urge to compare.
This album might not be like their old albums, but the world is nothing like it was in 2013 or 2016. A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships is the album that we needed right now. The 1975 have always had the capacity to be raw, and when they are (and this album is), there is nothing quite like it.