The anxiety of influence weighs heavily on Matty Healy, the rambunctious lead singer of English rock band The 1975. You can see it in the recently released video for the band's single "It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)," which finds the lanky 29-year-old sporting an oversized suit and performing in a style meant to imitate the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. You can sense it in his cheeky interviews and profiles, where he's prone to making proclamations like, "There are no big bands who are doing anything as interesting as us right now." The self-consciousness isn't a bug; it's a feature.
It's the same type of go-for-broke, neurosis-soaked creativity that drives A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, the group's recently released third record. Casual fans of the band, which has ballooned in popularity since the release of its self-titled debut in 2013, might've guessed the new album would be a relatively straightforward confessional about the perils of addiction. Towards the end of 2017, Healy checked into rehab in Barbados and kicked a heroin habit, which he told Rolling Stone didn't grow out of outlandish rock star partying. Instead, it emerged from the "polarity between connecting with 10,000 people and then going to a hotel room by myself."
But Healy, who co-produced the whole record with band's drummer George Daniel, doesn't do simple. A Brief Inquiry, which is anything but brief with 15 songs clocking in just under an hour, mashes together big picture themes with the same glee it takes in combining genres. To the uninitiated, the record, which pings between '80s electro-pop and Drake-esque R&B, can sound chaotic or garish. Plus, given the amount of critical acclaim already heaped on the record -- it scored an 89 on MetaCritic, received the Best New Music distinction from Pitchfork, and will likely pop up on countless year-end lists -- a backlash and subsequent backlash-to-the-backlash feels inevitable.