The 1975, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (Dirty Hit) ****

IF there were ever a band unashamedly determined to make a zeitgeist album, it’s The 1975.

Never knowingly shy and self-effacing, frontman Matt Healy – who’s had, shall we say, an interesting last couple of years – clearly sees himself as, if not the spokesman for a generation, then certainly deserving of a place on the panel.

And that’s led to a group who initially looked unlikely to stretch far beyond being a slightly grimy emo-pop outfit throwing everything at the wall on their third album, and nailing up the stuff that starts sliding down the paper.

A Brief Inquiry… is all over the shop, sometimes even ridiculous, which is probably what makes it at least three-quarters impressive. The 1975 don’t see the point in going for cohesion and unity when the world isn’t demonstrating much of that right now.

And so the album they seemingly intended to be their OK Computer leaps from the clipped Joy Division/Strokes hybrid of Give Yourself A Try to Mine’s reboot of Thirties' jazz.

It sits the big-hair stadium pop of Love It If We Made It, It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’s John Hughes-movie soundtrack flavour, and the irrepressible virtual calypso of TooTimeTooTimeTooTime next to a new-found affinity with Auto-Tune and The Man Who Married A Robot/Love Theme, a Siri-chronicled tale of a desolate, internet-obsessed man. To be honest, it’s utterly chaotic.

But chaos can work when it’s blended with ambition, inventiveness, and lyrics that hold your attention because you never know if they’re going to inspire or annoy you.

The 1975 have built an album with just enough accessibility (Be My Mistake and Inside Your Mind, for example, the twin torch-pop pillars of A Brief Inquiry…) to enjoy, and more than enough innovation and confusion to intrigue. It might be a mess, but it’s a well-crafted mess, and if The 1975 are a band with only one place to go – too far – they might just be getting there.

Mark Stead