Only a handful of musical acts have undergone such a massive sonic transformation as Australian quartet 5 Seconds of Summer. The group – consisting of Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford, Calum Hood and Ashton Irwin – were introduced to the music scene as a pop-punk boy band through hits such as 2014’s “She Looks So Perfect”. , the band had evolved beyond recognition, ditching the punk sound and boyband label thanks to their next breakthrough hit, “Youngblood.” With the release of the band’s fifth studio album, aptly titled “5SOS5”, 5 Seconds of Summer is undergoing yet another round of reinvention, bringing a more mature sound and perspective, while breaking the mold of what defines a 5SOS song. .
The album’s opener, “COMPLETE MESS”, a gentle reflection on messy relationships, was released as the album’s lead single in March this year. Over the next six months, 5SOS engaged fans with a steady stream of teasers, singles, and performances of then-unreleased tracks on the “Take My Hand” world tour, which took the band through the Europe and the Americas from April to July of this year. “BLENDER” quickly became a fan favorite after being added to the “Take My Hand” setlist, prompting fans to beg for its release, which “5SOS” eventually obliged. On the other hand, “Easy For You To Say”, another track teased on tour, wasn’t dropped until the album was released – albeit with odd production decisions and heavy vocal effects used on the chorus, the live performances eclipse the recording.
“5SOS5” marks the group’s first full release since “QUIET” of 2020 which included the hits “Easier” and “Teeth”. For the next two years, the group was anything but inactive. Irwin, the band’s drummer, became the first member to go solo with his 2020 debut album “Superbloom.” While 5 Seconds of Summer vocalist and rhythm guitarist Hemmings soon followed suit with the 2021 release of his album “When Facing the Things We Turn Away From.”
The influence of both projects can be heard in “5SOS5.” Irwin’s exploration of the industrial rock landscape continues in the introspective album “TEARS!” While the idyllic soundscape created for Hemmings’ album is borrowed from the deliciously sappy duet ‘Older’.
“5SOS5” also departs from 5 Seconds of Summer’s previous sound by expanding the band’s vocal range. On “CALM”, 5SOS was able to shed their boyband image by centering Hemmings as the leader of the band, providing lead vocals on all but one of the album’s tracks. Even with this shifting dynamic, longtime fans will be thrilled to hear the vocal moments of Clifford, Irwin and Hood find themselves in the spotlight once again. Fans can also hear a surprise vocal performance on “Older” where Sierra Deaton, Hemmings’ fiancé and former member of X-Factor winning duo Alex & Sierra, sings along with Hemmings in a heartwarming duet.
Throughout the album, 5SOS weaves a thread of nostalgia and reflection, a theme that flows like a natural continuation of “2011,” released last year to celebrate the band’s 10th anniversary. Two of the album’s best tracks – “Bad Omens” and “Best Friends” – are a natural couple examining the downfalls and heights of friendship, respectively. On “Bad Omens,” Hemmings laments his tendency to ignore red flags in toxic relationships, singing, “Heaven knows I should let go / It’s nothing I don’t already know.” While “Best Friends” features a happy, carefree celebration of friendship at its finest by exclaiming “I got the best friends here / And I’m holding on”.
At 19 songs, the album feels a bit bloated, especially on the back half where songs like “Redline”, “Moodswings” and “Flatline” merge in a haze of falsetto and guitars. Pushing a few songs onto a separate deluxe edition would free up space for some of the best mid-tempo B-sides like “Bleach” and “You Don’t Go to Parties” to stand out rather than get lost in the mix.
Nonetheless, “5SOS5” is a testament to 5 Seconds of Summer’s growth and musical talent. The album marks the band’s first independent release, as well as Clifford’s first departure as producer for nearly the entire album. While it doesn’t feature the same cohesiveness as “CALM,” “5SOS5” features a mix of surefire hits and experimental feelers, promising further growth and exploration in the band’s future.