Tuesday, March 05, 2019

A Brief inquiry into ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ introductory visuals

The 1975 have created waves in the music industry since their 2012 debut album. Releasing their second, a well earned 4 years later in 2016 and their third just two years later in 2018. Their fourth unannounced yet highly hinted - album however will be released less than a year after their third. A band on a roll.
Looking at their most recent release so exquisitely titled ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’, the promo started in April with this Instagram post.

The simple black and white poster introduces the new 1975 ‘era’, with a length paragraph filled with text in all capitals and jargon only capable of being written by Matty Healy – if you’ve not heard him in an interview I suggest you have a listen.

The type is small, neatly aligned in an orderly fashion, giving you confidence in the clinical design.
Whilst a more abstract approach it would suit The 1975, this would possibly clash with the babble that is written in the paragraph, leaving you perpetually confused. 

It took me a few attempts to read it but he does talk sense(haha), that can be given. The point being made is our new human need is for phones, internet and everything at our fingertips, literally. The bands attempt to deal and write about real problems is somewhat refreshing, but yet again - confusing.

Surrounding this paragraph are various phrases fans will recognise, neither use nor ornament, most serve as simply extra doors to the soul of the 1975 - easter eggs (I’m not sure I fully understand the use of this term) ‘Poetry is the streets in full living colour’. Also recongisable as ‘La poesie est dans le rue en couleur pleine de vie This phrase has been around since before the 2012 album. ‘La poesie est dans la rue’ is the title of a French protestant poetry book which states; ‘Contrary to an idea too often spread, poets living in France today are neither in a laboratory cut off from the world, nor in an ivory tower. They react, with their words, their sensitivity and their intelligence, to the problems of the world and society’

Seems relevant.

You can argue the poster communicates a convoluted ideal which is todays society. It is dull – in reference to the colour scheme, confusing – the topic of writingyet easy to follow and easy to assume is legitimate, thanks to the clinical and simple design. You could argue the designer has done this in a somewhat sarcastic attempt to professionalise The 1975’s pop culture position, which works well with the fact that they are singing about humanity instead of the girl he is sleeping with. I love their use of copywriting to sell their album, band and ‘era’. It works as a manifesto, letting the fans know, this is what they’re about (and this is what you’re in forIt is not something bands often do (you could argue The 1975 are more than a band – a movement)

The 1975 have always been very idea forward (a bit too much at times, I’ve heard Matty throw ideas about all over social media only to change his mind a few weeks later leaving fans asking ‘What happened to this album being the last 1975 album?’ Yeah they said that).

In 2016 they deleted their social media accounts, leaving everyone thinking they had quit. Only to re install a day or so later with a eerie upload and message which introduced the previous eraIt got everyone talking and topping that introduction would’ve been hard.
Turns out this poster was just the beginning, what followed were 15 or so posters/uploads presenting situations only available to those of us living and breathing with our smart phone. The good and the bad. Here are some of the best.

These posters hold the same basic layout ‘page furniture’ as the first poster, the album title, etc. etc. I could imagine these posters in the streets, on billboards, in tube stations. They would catch the attention of the passer by and not just the 15-25 year old who might be interested in their music. I doubt their aim is to get 40 year olds to become the 1975 fans yet who knows. The clean design here provides confidence within the content reinforced by black type on white. Nice, large, recognisable and relatable imagery such as the famous grammy photo and blue beach combined with a large type, which makes you look twice and think ‘what is that trying to say?’ (Maybe they should not use stock photos however)

It leaves suspicion, to a fan, an insight into what the album will be about and to a passer by (aka none fan) a curiosity which I’m sure you would expect to be followed up by a Pop band (is it pop?). A large improvement on the first poster, these vast number of posters are a well encapsulated visual language, they possibly even hold a slight glimpse of sarcasm within them (hard to take the whole idea seriously when you know who is behind it however (is that mean?))

This visual language has stayed so far throughout this ‘era’ It does get worse at one point however, I remember referring to the “MFC’ and ‘Sincerity Is Scary’ and ‘Be My Mistake’ posters as ‘what you create in GCSE graphic design thinking you’re cool’.

I’d be here all day talking about the promotion for this era – its extensive, just have a scroll down their Instagram, endless posters, photographs (which on the other hand are very nice) but overall I am impressed by the extent they go to, yes I’d do it different, but they’re on the right track towards a more encompassing  and fluid experience in terms of music visuals. There is so much that could be done, but most artists stick to the bare minimum.

The beauty behind design is that its prefect not when you’ve added as much as you can too it, but when you’ve taken as much as you can away – We all love layers, finding out and experiencing something someone else might not even notice (I think this is what easter eggs are?) , and this is why design and music go hand in hand. The way fans appreciate and experience music today gives such a market for this design. 

However, in my opinion, it just needs refining slightly; more streamline, more finesse and that would make a more exciting visual experience.

Not many other bands put this much time into their artworks so for that I thank them. Just next time, please don’t sell a top which says ‘Poison me daddy’.

By Emily Barker




  1. It was such an updated cover for this era as a good amount of people are engaged in online relationships. I mean I want to give them an Oscar if I could for getting the most attention from their audience. Since most of my time has been taken by their songs I have now been asking around for writers to do my essay for me . I hope to get back on track soon!

  2. The lyrics of an album song are the words that are sung by the singer. The lyrics can be about a particular topic or they can be about a general theme. Songs are usually written by the singer or by someone else who is not the singer. The person who writes the lyrics is called a lyricist.


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