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Album Review: 5 Seconds of Summer's fifth studio album "5SOS5"

5 Seconds of Summer


Release: September 23, 2022

Review by Camilla Vadseth

They’ve done it again. In their fifth studio album (aptly named 5SOS5), we really get a feel of the safe and established band 5 Seconds of Summer have become. Gone are the flashy singles and pandering to a younger audience (can we finally lay the boyband-label to rest?), and what remains is a cohesive collection of sounds that, although quite different from the earlier works of their career, feels inherently 5SOS. This album keeps building on the groundwork laid by Michael Clifford, Calum Hood, Ashton Irwin and Luke Hemmings on their fourth studio album, CALM (2020), and with an impressive 19-song track list on the deluxe album, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy. The choruses of this album are unmatched, and the lyricism really shows off the mature sound they’ve grown into (not to say that “You look so perfect standing there, in my American Apparel underwear” isn’t timelessly iconic).

Photo: Andy DeLuca

Opening with the first single, COMPLETE MESS, throws you right into the wonderland of this new album. It’s the perfect opening track, as it feels like all the different sounds on the album put together. I would also like to highlight how incredible the lyrical contrast of “you make me complete / you make me a complete mess” is, and it’s only one example of how clever 5SOS’ song writing is, proving that they don’t need to use fancy, big words to make a meaningful statement (we also have the fancier words, but I find it so impressive how they can turn something simple into a masterpiece).

Fans (including me) were ecstatic to finally get to hear the studio version of Easy For You To Say, having been obsessed with the song since hearing it on their Take My Hand-tour this spring. The sing-along factor on this is out of this world, but having experienced it live, there’s a small part of me wishing that the studio version packed more of a punch, as it feels more careful than the live version. Not worse in any way, the vibes are just completely different, and in some way that feels like a bit of a gift. They’ve given us an opportunity to enjoy the song in two different ways, either from the album or from the countless videos posted online of the live version (or, you know, when going to a show, something I highly recommend).

(Their ability to play around with the composition of their songs is also a testament to the hard work the band puts into their live shows, making sure to make the experience more special than ‘just’ listening to the album. I could probably write an entire dissertation about how impressive this is, but I’ll get back on topic for this time).

The third track, Bad Omens, is easily in my top three, such a tune. It starts off quite unsuspecting, but surprises us with the pre-chorus and chorus of the century. Continuing the tradition of combining dance-able beats with sad lyrics, this song about loving someone you ultimately know you can’t have is so relatable.

View the official music video for Bad Omens here.

Me Myself & I pack the most punch out of all the tracks and is this album’s designated “belting-the-chorus-while-driving” song. As mentioned, the choruses in this tracklist are magnificent, and this song is the type of catchy you find yourself humming at 3am. As with all the songs on 5SOS5 it’s so emotional, but maybe the only track where anger is the most significant one. Not anger directed at someone else, but frustration at your own behaviour. If you ever feel angry and sorry for yourself, crank this track up and you’re 100% guaranteed to feel better after yelling along (I don’t make the rules).

Carrying the same name as their latest tour, the album version of Take My Hand (more specifically the “Joshua Tree Version”) features a new outro, but is still as beautiful as the single version. The meaning of this song isn’t as straight-forward as some of the others, but I like the idea of encouraging different interpretations, it makes the song belong to all of us, in a way. To me, it reads like a recognition to the people in our lives that stick around, even when you’re not at your best. A truly powerful second single.

CAROUSEL feels like life itself. How it on one hand feels like it’s going too fast, but you simultaneously don’t want it to stop. It’s kind of comforting, knowing you’re not the only one with no clue what you’re doing with your life.

Every album also needs at least one heart-wrenching ballad, something 5SOS have done expertly in the past with tracks like Amnesia from their self-titled debut (2014) and Ghost Of You from Youngblood (2018). Older features Sierra Deaton, Luke Hemmings’ fiancée, making the duet all the more believable.

You know those songs you hear, and you can’t help but move? HAZE is one of those, capturing the overwhelming feeling of haze when you’re in love with someone, and nothing is wrong in the world as long as they’re there with you. The vibe is really infectious, and it makes me want to dance around in the kitchen in the middle of the night with someone.

Moving on to You Don’t Go To Parties, while blending in with their newer sound, this song feels very Sounds Good Feels Good (2015), and hits us again with the upbeat sound and melancholic lyrics. It feels nostalgic and approaches the topic of change in almost a mourning way. I feel like this is one of those songs that you initially listen to and think it’s a happy song (it’s the upbeat sound trying to fool us), but as soon as you listen to the lyrics the entire vibe changes. Melodically I feel like it’s quite neutral in the mood, so after knowing the lyrics it’s just a sadder song for me (doesn’t make it any less brilliant, though).

We’re presented with yet another incredible chorus in BLENDER, and anyone who manages to pull off the lyrics “we’re going ‘round again / in an emotional blender” truly deserves kudos. The music fits so well with the topic of a rocky relationship, that you definitely should get out of, but just can’t. The chorus feels so chaotic and desperate, and it just w o r k s.

Getting into the second half of the album, we have Caramel. I feel like all I do is repeat myself, but THE CHORUS OF THIS SONG. Another one you can scream out loud to get it all out of your system, whether it be heartbreak or something else that needs out.

Best Friends is a joyous love-letter to the people closest to us, and the song feels like the embodiment of singing at the top of your lungs with your friends in the car. It brings me right back to road trips and sleepovers, all those long nights where nothing mattered except for the good company of your best friends.

The absolute longing Bleach exudes is incredible. The lyrics are so well written, and the concept of needing to bleach something to start clean is so clever. Absolute A+.

Red Line is like that feeling everyone will eventually be familiar with as they grow older, that time keeps passing but you’re standing completely still, as if you’re just a spectator in your own life. I feel like it’s not easy to break someone with a single lyric, but “another vessel in a winter coat” is pretty close for me.

Photo via Instagram (@5sos)

Into the tracks exclusive to the deluxe versions of the album, Moodswings explores the frustration of feeling like you’re pushing someone away, while you at the same time desperately want them to stay in your life. I feel like this is also a very good example of how incredibly skilled 5SOS are at background vocals and harmonies, it really ties the whole song together.

If you’ve ever been truly obsessed with someone, Flatline is the song for you. Another track that really makes you want to dance (be careful with that heart though, don’t want any actual flatlining).

Emotions is my personal favourite on the album, such an incredibly emotional track (as you would imagine, seeing the title), who doesn’t rely on fancy words or metaphors to tug on your heartstrings. The lyrics feel so honest and relatable, and combined with the halfway upbeat melody, it feels exactly like the way we often downplay our feelings and experiences when telling others. Michael Clifford’s raw vocals are perfect for this song, and feels like this album’s Jet Black Heart (SGFG).

Bloodhound is really just a vibe all around, and can be very versatile. It’s chill enough for when you’re not feeling your best, but it’s also upbeat enough to dance to if that’s the mood.

I don’t know if it’s because Ashton Irwin is carrying this song, but it really sounds like it was taken straight from his solo album, Superbloom (2020). Being the last track on 5SOS5, it’s a perfect wrap-up of a truly remarkable project. As with all the other tracks, the emotions are seeping from TEARS!, and melodically it feels like the end, but it also carries a promise of a beginning, like it whispers “watch this space!” for future stuff. It feels like a cliff hanger, in a way, it makes you long for more.

* * *

I feel like the common theme we see with all these tracks are different core emotions and experiences we have as human beings. They range from anger and deep sadness to the celebration of friends and life itself. It’s for screaming, it’s for laughing and it’s for crying, the whole emotional rollercoaster.

Needless to say, this makes for an emotional listening experience overall. Somehow, I’m also left with an incredibly nostalgic feeling, not because the songs or the sound is identical to the earlier 5SOS-projects, but because it incorporates their new sound while still referencing previous albums and eras. With every single new era they show this ability to innovate and develop their sound while remaining 5 Seconds of Summer. Growing up alongside bands means also witnessing their work change, and sometimes you fear that they’ll delve into a completely different sound, and you’ll be stuck in the weird place between loving their older stuff but not identifying with the newer stuff. 5SOS thankfully has us all covered there, and 5SOS5 really provides something for fans of every era, while still feeling like a solid album. It’s another one for the books, and in the words of 5 Seconds of Summer themselves, in the final words of the booklet of the deluxe cd; “May this oasis of creation never dry”.

View our photo gallery from 5SOS' Take My Hand tour in Seattle, WA back in June.

All links to listen or buy 5SOS5 are here. Follow 5 Seconds of Summer on Spotify, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

by Camilla Vadseth


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