5 Seconds Of Summer

Capitol, 2018

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


Aussie pop rockers 5 Seconds Of Summer (aka 5SOS) formed in Sydney sometime in 2011 and gained initial interest via YouTube, which culminated in the band opening for One Direction the following year on their Take Me Home Tour. They proved their worth and ended up scoring a recording contract. Back in 2011, three of the lads, Luke Hemmings (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Michael Clifford (lead guitars), and Callum Hood (bass) began posting videos of their pop covers on Hemmings’ YouTube channel. Drummer Ashton Irwin had joined to complete the four-piece group in December of that year. Following their breakthrough supporting One Direction, 5SOS went on to release their self-titled debut in 2014 and Sounds Good Feels Good the following year.

Both albums created a decent buzz, as the band toured heavily behind each record, proving that not only could they write catchy pop songs but they could play the hell out of them on stage. Those first two records showcased their penchant for mixing their punk influences with some power chords and slick vocals. For their next effort, the lads wanted to expand their horizons and explore a more electronic/dance soundscape. To help achieve this, the band headed to California and overseen by what can only be described as a “mass gathering” of producers as they wrote a fresh batch of material that that would eventually be finely crafted into a thoroughly entertaining electro pop album. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Youngblood is the band’s third studio album (not counting EPs) and was unleashed on June of 2018 to a largely accepting audience. The record is very slick, albeit a tad too polished, yet full of all of the swagger four Aussie guys in the twenties can muster. It was also made available in several “Deluxe” and “Exclusive” editions, some that blew out to a whopping 19-tracks. For the purposes of this review, I am concentrating on the original 13-track album.

Lyrically, this is a much more mature album, although most of the songs revolve around love, lost love, and new love, which makes it a bit repetitive at times (i.e., “Better Man” and “Why Won’t You Love Me”). The opener “Youngblood” was written with Adam Watt and Ali Tamposi (the pair cooked up “Havana” with Camilla Cabello) that deals with the obsessive and impulsive nature of young relationship over a insanely catchy track complete with a killer bassline, gated drum rolls, and finger-snaps. This is all topped off with a beautifully impassioned vocal from Hemmings.

Lead single “Want You Back,” an ode to everlasting love for an ex, is awash with Chic-like guitars and more traditional synth pop rhythm track; the layered vocals are a treat. “Woke Up In Japan” was a band effort that the guys wrote together in a living room. There’s a definite nod to their rock influences here with a heavy riff and heavier phaser giving it the full retro treatment. “If These Walls Could Talk” was inspired by the bassline in Taking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” and so this one also gets the retro make-over. There are some beefy guitars and all the guys provide vocals for one of the album’s definite highlights.

“More” is another killer track full of synth-driven fire that more than makes up for the cliched lyric, as is the case with “Valentine,” which despite its vibrancy is an ode to Valentine’s Day love. Like I said before, how many songs about relationships do you want in an album?

This point is pretty much my only problem with the record: musically it is a great ride, with plenty of sounds and shapes to take in, but lyrically it would have been nice to hear 5SOS expand their horizons and not just cater for their teenage female fanbase. Maybe next time…

Rating: B

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