Australian quartet 5 Seconds Of Summer have turned a corner. Since the release of their 2018 anthem album 'Youngblood', the band have moved away from their gritty pop punk roots to deliver a biting record on the brink of pop perfection.
Opening track ‘Red Desert’ lays the groundwork for 5 Seconds Of Summer’s reformed sound. Launching directly into a semi a capella chorus, the song is nothing short of an earnest moment of self-reflection built around haunting gang vocals and slick rock harmonies.
‘No Shame’ is a one-take wonder. The band creatively gambled with the track, plugging in an eclectic mix of instruments driving home a fail-safe song. The album’s ambitious lead tracks are quickly backed up by a trio of beastly genre-bending songs.
It’s no surprise ‘Old Me’, ‘Easier’ and ‘Teeth’ were picked as standalone singles. Each song supersedes expectation with Luke Hemming’s falsetto scraping the highs and low to an impressive quality. There’s no doubt the band got it right with these tracks.
The album continues to unfold with unabashed honesty that persistently forces in recognisable twangs of pop punk influence between the odd sickly lyric about another relationship. At times, this tension pays off like the echo-y intro of ‘Wildflower’ and its punchy chorus.
Yet, the lackluster lyrics and subdued riffs in ‘Best Years’ aren’t quite enough to make the cut against the rest of the album. ‘Not In the Same Way’ is shockingly mediocre falling victim to the same deflating formula as ‘Best Years’.
As the album starts to close out, 'CALM' takes a subtle redirection padded out with slow burn sounds and more introspective lyrics. ‘Lover Of Mine’ and ‘Thin White Lies’ a peaceful step away from Ashton Irwin’s crashing drums or Michael Clifford’s grinding guitar.
‘Lonely Heart’ breaks the atmospheric calm with an energetic chorus which lends nicely to the complimenting vocals of Calum Hood. ‘High’ is a contemplative track boosted by gentle vocals. It’s fearlessly intimate and honest, much like the entirety of the album.
There’s no doubt 5 Seconds Of Summer have matured beyond their sound. 'CALM' is a refreshing evolution from the days of their self-titled debut. Their latest effort is by no means perfect, but the album is a testament to their growth.
Words: Zoya Raza-Sheikh
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