released 2018, dirty hit.
One of my most anticipated album releases of the year, “A Brief Inquiry…” arrived after a lengthy campaign (that ended up giving us a third of the album as singles before the actual release, yikes) and months of buildup and expectations. I’ll say that while it met mine [expectations], it is also a flawed work that never quite reaches the highs that previous album “I Like it When You Sleep…” did. Though, in “Inquiry”s defense, it’s also not as much of a chore to sit through since there aren’t oodles and oodles of instrumental passages between big pop moments (remember that break between Somebody Else and The Sound? And that was only two fackin’ songs.).
I’m going to jump into the singles for a bit, since they’re truly the highlights of this record. “Love It If We Made It” is easily the weakest of the lot, a four minute exercise in self-indulgence and faux political activism that comes off way too try-hard. I’m also not a big fan of how basic the chorus is. “Sincerity is Scary” is leagues better, a unique entry on the album that’s somewhere between what you’d hear at a jazz/slam poetry club and something not too out of place on an early Nujabes record.
“Give Yourself a Try” is one of the most straightforward offerings on this rather ambitious record, which made it an easy choice for the lead single if you ask me. It’s very catchy, but i’ve gotta knock points off of it for reminding me of what a Hot Topic sounds like. “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” and “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” blow the other extracted cuts out of the water, managing to simultaneously mend upbeat, by the numbers pop structures with The 1975’s exemplary style of unique melody and production. No Rome has a writing credit on “TOOTIME”, and I hear his influence all over it, which earns extra credit as I adore that boy.
As for the material exclusive to the album, ’tis a wee bit all over the place creatively, but only a few moments stand out as mediocre or otherwise missing the mark. Introductory track “The 1975” sounded a little overproduced (and actually scared the hell out of me at the 30 second mark, be warned), and I literally don’t know why “The Man Who Married a Robot” exists. Like, who thought it’d be a good idea to make a “Fitter Happier” for the milennial generation (with a tacked on orchestral moment to boot)? Nobody asked for that, but I get the novelty value.
The balladry scattered throughout the tracklist didn’t all immediately gain my attention (you should all know by now that I rarely give a shit about slow songs unless they’re performed with vocal acrobatics a la Mariah Carey), “Be My Mistake” and “Inside Your Mind” are cute, but nothing I’ll come back to. “Mine” on the other hand, floats and flutters with its classic standards arrangement, and Healy croons as if he’s auditioning for a Michael Buble tribute act (is this shade? i hope not). It’s very good stuff.
“Surrounded by Heads and Bodies” has skint traces of bossa nova influence in it that I wish were explored further, as it’s a fairly tame acoustic midtempo that doesn’t really go anywhere. “I Couldn’t Be More in Love” was also something I didn’t particularly care for, but I can see the appeal of its retro 80’s pastiche.
“A Brief Inquiry” closes with “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)”, a song that wouldn’t sound too out of place at the end of some 90’s WB teen drama season finale montage. The 1975 become The 1995 for this one, and I won’t lie- the strings really got me all choked up. It’s a fantastic ending song, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they pushed this one for a sixth single just to wrap the campaign up neatly. There’s even a coda!
- The 1975 ⭐️⭐️
- Give yourself a try ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- How to draw / Petrichor ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Love if if we made it ⭐️⭐️
- Be my mistake ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Sincerity is scary ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- I like america & america likes me ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- The man who married a robot / Love theme ⭐️⭐️
- Inside your mind ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- It’s not living (if it’s not with you) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Surrounded by heads and bodies ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Mine ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- I couldn’t be more in love ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- I always wanna die (sometimes) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Must-Listen : Sincerity is scary, Mine, TOOTIME.., I always wanna die
(4/5 of the singles are brilliant, and Mine is easily the best offering of the album.)
Skip : Love it if we made it, The man who married a robot, Inside your mind
(A lot of the midtempo/ballads are filler, and The Man who married a Robot is ridiculous.)
Stream “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships” on Apple Music and Spotify.