Review by Gianluca D’Elia
Australian heartthrobs 5 Seconds of Summer are back just in time for summer with a hot new album.
This time, however, they’ve traded their signature pop punk sound for a sleek, sophisticated pop rock sound. It’s drastically different from the aggressive sound we heard from them three years ago on “Sounds Good Feels Good,” which gave us some heavy rock anthems like “She’s Kinda Hot” and “Jet Black Heart.”
Given the bops we were graced with last year, the bar is set high. So perhaps it’s good that the band went with an entirely new sound, making the new set of songs memorable in its own unique ways.
The emotional vulnerability of “Youngblood” sets a tone for an album with a lighter sound and more heartfelt lyrics. “Remember the words you told me, love me ‘til the day I die. Surrender my everything ’cause you made me believe you’re mine,” lead singer Luke Hemmings says as he opens the album, leading into a Maroon 5-ish summer jam.
Meanwhile, the falsetto of Hemmings’ chorus in “Want You Back” will probably hit a soft spot for listeners. The group chorus of “Lie to Me” is a sweet moment.
Later on, the fast-paced grooviness of tracks like “Talk Fast” and “If Walls Could Talk” highlight the band at their best as they explore a new sound. There are times like these when the soft-rock sound works for 5SOS, but other times, it falls flat and doesn’t feel unique or genuine.
A true gem comes along toward the middle of the 16-track set. “Why Won’t You Love Me” is a slow rock jam with excellent drum beats, and it’s where Hemmings’ vocals seem to be most similar to the band’s pop punk days — we still remember that, right?
Ending on the strong rock anthem “Babylon,” 5SOS shows us that they still have it: the strong songwriting skills, the pop-punk sensibility. Maybe they’ve grown out of their style, or maybe they just wanted to try something new. Either way, it leaves a listener curious to see what they’ll try next.
Favorite Tracks: “More,” “Why Won’t You Love Me,” “If Walls Could Talk”