A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
review by reese gorman
"A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships" has been the only thing I've listened to since its release this past Friday. I've been trying to meticulously dissect these lyrics that have such powerful intentions behind them, touching on topics such as modern politics, relationships, addiction and the overall experience of this generation.
You have every range of music style on this record, from pop and jazz all the way to Siri narrated spoken word, Matty utilizes his gift and gives us a deep look into his life and perception of the world.
"Love if We Made it" is a song where the meaning is not hidden, you know it's political. He sings about tragedies that have now become normalized in society. With lyrics such as "Suffocate the black man" in reference to the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police, and "a beach of drowning three-year-olds" referencing the death of Alan Kurdi. In this song he gives no opinions, stating only the facts in which case allows the listener to form their own opinions.
Straying away from politics for the remainder of the album, he begins to touch on other issues. "It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)" is a joyous pop song that sings about his past heroin addiction, but in a clever and refreshing way "All I do is sit and think about you / if I knew what you'd do / collapse my veins wearing beautiful shoes / it's not living if it's not with you." In no way is he glorifying addiction, but simply being honest with us, showing us the true life of an addict throughout the song ("he's gotta search the street when he's on vacation").
Nine out of ten times when you have a song that talks about your struggles with addiction it will be the most vulnerable song on the record, this is not the case here. "I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)" is the most emotionally vulnerable song on the album. Relating to so many with these tear-jerking lyrics. The song starts off with this sense of regret and emptiness "Your memories are sceneries for things you said / But never really meant" relating to the first line where the character is on a train, Matty talks about how instead of enjoying the scenery outside the train, his brain is full of memories, running through his head are situations from the past where he didn't say the right thing, or should've said something but didn't. He relates to us in this way knowing that everyone has regret and it's a feeling that is all too common to us. The chorus, despite the dark front it might put up, is reviving in a sense. "I always wanna die, sometimes" when someone is full of regret and is depressed they feel this deep desire that their life is meaningless, Matty assures us that this feeling is only temporary because there are good times and those are worth living for.
Emotional vulnerability seems to be the major theme we see in this album. A theme that is also very present in the breathtaking piece "Be My Mistake." A song about the loneliness he faces while on tour, he sings about how much he is longing for someone, regardless if he knows he shouldn't be with this woman. Matty makes very clear the girl in this song is not someone he cares about, rather someone to help cope with the pain of him missing the one he loves, "The smell of your hair / remind me of her feet" this verse is in reference to the Bible story (Luke 7:36-50) in which the sinful women washes Jesus' feet and then dries them with her hair. He uses this to symbolize how the women he is with may be lustfully attractive, but the women he loves is heavenly and far superior.
Spoken word is something we haven't seen Matty do before this record, but with everything else going on in the album, why not? "The Man Who Married A Robot / Love Theme" is a spoken word poem narrated by Siri about loneliness and internet addiction. The character in the poem is a man known as SnowflakeSmasher86 and his best friend, the internet. "The internet, as you know, was his friend - you could say, his best friend" although at first glance it may seem as though he is mocking the world's dependence on technology, he is not, he is rather accepting it and presenting it in such a way as to say, 'here is where we are right now, and this isn't healthy.'
"I Couldn't Be More In Love" is something special. As far as I can remember this is the first song that Matty has written that is a true love song, no dark turns or surprise lyrics, just a good old-fashioned dancing at your wedding song.
"Mine" is a piece of art both lyrically and instrumentally, this jazz number reflects mockingly on the era that we're in. Talking about how marriage isn't as necessary now as it used to be and that it's ok, marriage isn't for everyone and Matty addresses that topic throughout the song "There comes a time in a young man's life / he should settle down and find himself a wife / but I'm fine 'cause I know you are mine". He makes very clear this is in no way a sign of his deficiency of love for this woman, in fact it's the opposite "When you say that I'm wasting your time / Then I smile and tell you things will be fine / For some reason, I just can't say 'I do'"
Matty Healy took us on a journey throughout this whole record, opened himself up to us and let us inside his life, and for that, we say thank you. He didn't have to become as vulnerable as he did, but he knows that his music resonates with people and that he isn't the only one with these struggles. Matty is a selfless human being and we are forever grateful. Congrats on creating "A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships" the Album of the Century.