After three years, 5 Seconds of Summer have released their third album titled ‘Youngblood’. The band quickly rose to fame after opening for One Direction on their world tour and they have spent years working non-stop, going from touring straight into the studio, releasing their sophomore album ‘Sounds Good Feels Good’ one year after their self-titled debut album.
I have been keeping up with the band since before their first album, in which I saw potential for great music. The band consists of four talented songwriters and musicians, each of them having a hand in the music they write and release. However, their sophomore album felt like an incohesive mess of songs quickly shoved together in order to release something–anything at all–a year after their debut. ‘Sounds Good Feels Good’ felt like a major disappointment to me, and it left me asking myself where all that potential was I saw in ‘5 Seconds of Summer’. Sure, their first album was very young and the lyrics were borderline cringey, but it’s not hard to tell that there was a lot more in store for them, given that they had the chance to grow and learn and work with different musicians and producers. Personally, I don’t expect much from albums that are released within a short time-span from one another, and so I could’ve seen my disappointment in ‘Sounds Good Feels Good’ coming from a mile away. And so when I realised that 5SOS were taking time off in between touring and writing, I let out a sigh of relief.
And the wait was worth it. On February 23, the band released their first single titled ‘Want You Back’ with a whole new sound and aesthetic. Their growth is palpable in the song, and it seems like they have decided to stray from the pre-packaged pop-punk band that they began as and chose to experiment with sounds outside of the box they had placed themselves in for so long. The sound has matured beyond the angsty pop-punk songs they built their success on.
The next single and title track of the album, ‘Youngblood’, seems to be taking inspiration from Fall Out Boy’s post-hiatus sound. The two singles have been topping the charts all over the world, being especially successful in Australia, where they’re already certified platinum. The songs show how the four members have taken a step back to take a better look at what they have done since they began in 2011. The guitars have stepped out of the spotlight and the arena-sized drums have been replaced with electronic drums.
This step away from their old sounds doesn’t come as a surprise. In 2016, the four Aussies wrote ‘Girls Talk Boys’ for the Ghostbusters soundtrack. The song is something completely different–including a funky bass-line and some serious 80s dance party vibes–obviously lending inspiration from bands such as Talking Heads and the Rolling Stones. So songs on ‘Youngblood’ like ‘Talk Fast’– a song dripping with 80s revival vibes–really show that they have chosen to run with their inspirations. Their ‘5SOS INFLUENCES’ on their official Spotify include artists such as Jet, Joy Division, and Tears For Fears. And it’s evident in their music. “The first two albums, we couldn’t really do that because we didn’t know how to,” says Luke Hemmings in an interview, “So this is a little bit of old, a little bit of new, and a little bit of you.”
They have not only taken inspiration from older bands. ‘Valentine’ sounds like something that could exist on The Neighbourhood’s ‘I Love You.’, with its bedroom-esque vocals and looping drum samples. The intro to ‘Ghost Of You’ seems to be lending inspiration from Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Carrie & Lowell’ in terms of the guitar sounds and piano. The song continues in something that feels like 2000s nostalgia.
The album encapsulates a new era for 5SOS, a departure from their teenage selves into adulthood, a step out of their genre-bubble and a step forward to growing their sound. The album contains a wide range of pop-songs, from upbeat pop-ier songs like ‘Monster Among Men’ to darker-sounding bangers like ‘Babylon’ and sad heartbreak songs like “Lie To Me”.
This album has shown how much they can and probably will continue to move forward and push the limits of what they can create. They have taken the time to mature, and it shows in their sound. And while there are still songs on the album that I’m not totally convinced of yet, mostly because of cliche lines, it is a big step up from their previous album. The move into pop music has been a wise one, the album is cohesively put together and it is clear that they were ready and aching for a new sound, something that could show their progress. I look forward to see what else they have in store for the future, especially now that they’ve found the confidence to get out of their comfort zone and go for whatever the hell they want to.
You can listen to the album on Spotify here.