By Nimra Amir, November 3 2022—
The year is 2014 — my mutuals on Tumblr were re-blogging gifs from the viral music video for Australian pop-rock band 5 Seconds of Summer’s new hit single “She Looks So Perfect.” With the subsequent break up of world-renowned British pop band One Direction in the following year, the timing for a new popular boy band with a non-American accent to enter my life could not be any more perfect. 5 Seconds of Summer — made up of Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford, Calum Hood and Ashton Irwin — just happened to be that band.
Albums like the self-titled 5 Seconds of Summer, Sounds Good Feels Good and Youngblood — among others from that Tumblr era — became the soundtrack for all of my pre-teen and teenage years. But since then, the band has undergone sonic reinventions with albums like CALM and their newly released fifth studio album, the appropriately titled 5SOS5.
As a retired stan, I decided to give 5SOS5 a listen to see if they still have the same appeal they did back when I was growing up.
Their signature sound of pop-rock with edgier lyrics is heard right off the bat in the album’s opener, “COMPLETE MESS,” followed by “Easy For You To Say.”
Lyrics backed with mellow instrumentals like “A youth that was stolen and filled with mistakes / I turned all around, looked for someone to blame,” that we hear from lead singer Hemmings in “Easy For You To Say” is reminiscent of the band’s roots. The same can be said for “Me Myself & I,” a song on self-sabotage, and “You Don’t Go To Parties,” a song on missing an ex.
The song that perfectly represents the roots but also the growth of the band, however, is “Bad Omens,” a song on whether to let go or hold on to a complicated relationship. Hemmings begins the song with strong vocals as the pre-chorus builds up. The rest of the band then joins in with the lyrics “I cried in you dark brown eyes for the thousandth time / ‘Cause you love somebody / I died when you left that night for the thousandth time / ‘Cause you love somebody else,” to produce the signature but refined energetic pop-rock sound that has made their songs so addictive.
Yet this sound was just not prioritised the same way it has been in earlier albums as songs like “Caramel,” “Emotions” and “Moodswings” begin to lazily blend together. Instead, the focus of the album shifts to the newly introduced brighter pop sound with catchy upbeat songs like “HAZE” and “Flatline” that feature more vocal influence from Hood or “Bloodhound” that feature more vocal influence from Clifford. While these songs fully commit to almost an electro-pop or synth-pop sound that is done well, other pop songs off the album like “Best Friends” feel like any other mainstream surface-level pop song.
The album really sets itself apart from earlier albums, however, with the standout song “Older.” The slow love song backed with simple piano and acoustic guitar features a duet between Hemmings and his fiance, former member of the X-Factor winning duo Alex & Sierra, Sierra Deaton with beautiful lyrics like “I don’t wanna get older / Without your head on my shoulder / On the day that you leave me / I’ll forever be bleeding love / As forever comes closer / Hope the world will spin slower.”
5SOS5 is a testament to what seems to be a transitional period for the band. With a total of 19 songs, the album makes sure that there are at least a few songs for everyone from old to new fans to enjoy, but to the detriment that the album can feel too incohesively packed with songs that have no interesting sound of their own. So, while there are songs that have the appeal that I remember, this was by no means most of the album — but still just enough for me to become a stan again.