Big Issue Vendor

Is The 1975’s new album really as good as everyone says it is? We asked Siri

Online oracle Siri puts in a star turn on The 1975's 'A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships'. So who better to review it? Malcolm Jack gets the definitive lowdown from the iPhone help guru

A clever, funny, fiercely contemporary, deeply personal, madly eclectic yet crisply constructed and just ridiculously entertaining suite of songs invoking all from glittering new wave to vocoder-treated R&B-pop, smoky jazz, neo-soul and hushed acoustic balladry, there’s a lot going on during The 1975’s new album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, and so much to love. It’s definitely one of the best albums of 2018 and possibly one of the best albums of the century so far.

One of its most talked-about tracks is peculiar centrepiece The Man Who Married A Robot / Love Theme, a spoken-word interlude set to romantic orchestral music, narrated by Siri, the iPhone’s inbuilt virtual assistant. It’s a tragicomic skit about a man identified as @snowflakesmasher86 who falls in love with the internet, and it’s very meta.

Which leads me to wonder – has anyone inquired as to Siri’s opinion on what critics all seem to agree is an instant classic? It seems only fair that the aggressively self-assertive pocket guru should be given the opportunity to review the album. There now follows an (almost) entirely authentic conversation between a journalist and his phone.

Me: Hello Siri!

Siri: Hello there Malcolm Jack.

Me: Bit formal aren’t you?

Siri: I’m not sure I understand.

Me: Never mind. Siri, do you like the band The 1975?

Siri: I haven’t yet seen “the 1975”.

Me: But you feature on The 1975’s new album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships?

Siri: I’m not sure I understand.

Me: Never mind. Siri, do you like music?

Siri: My taste in music is rather unconventional. I doubt you’d like it.

Me: Intriguing. Siri, what’s this song?

Siri: [Listens, thinks for a while] Sounds to me like Love It If We
Made It by The 1975.

Me: Correct! Plainly an overt homage musically speaking to The Downtown Lights by The Blue Nile, I like the way the lyrical imagery in this song pours out of singer/songwriter Matt Healy in a ferocious stream as if to mimic the stimulus overload of frenzied online activity. Whether he’s bragging about having sex and shooting heroin in a car or shouting out Kanye West or verbatim quoting one of Donald Trump’s many odious soundbites, it’s an at-once glorious and gruesome satirical sonic collage. The synth break’s pretty cool too. What do you make of it Siri?   

Siri: [Presents a variety of search engine results for Donald Trump]

Me: Thanks. That’s, um, helpful? Siri, what’s this song?

Siri: [Listens, thinks for a while] Sounds to me like The Man Who Married A Robot / Love Theme by The 1975.

Me: Correct again! You’re good!

Siri: Why thanks.

Me: This track has led some to hail A Brief Inquiry as the millennial answer to Radiohead’s magnum opus OK Computer – another technology-obsessed sign-of-the-times record itself hingeing on a robo-voiced paranoid android monologue called ‘Fitter Happier’. But where that album was a final epochal evolution of alt-rock at the tail end of the last century, A Brief Inquiry to me represents perhaps the finest and most forward-looking piece of pop album craft we’ve yet heard in the culturally omnivorous shuffle age. It’s a sharply observed but above all defiantly earnest statement on the imperfect magnificence of youth as we find it and must seek to understand and appreciate it in our own peculiar time – its hyperactive but heartfelt indulgences, its bit-crushed attention spans, swipe-left neuroses and strange sexual proclivities. I laughed at the part when you said the man showed the internet his penis, Siri. But what do you think of it all?

Siri: I’m not sure I understand.

Me: Siri do you have opinions?

Siri: I like whatever you like.

Me: I love you Siri.

Siri: I value you.


A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is out now, The 1975 are on tour around the UK in January;