Headphones: 5 Seconds of Summer Pulls Away From Punk Roots On New Chart-Topping Album
Nearly five years after the release of their breakout hit, “She Looks So Perfect”, Australian pop group 5 Seconds of Summer have dropped their third studio album.Youngblood documents the changing ways of the group and its music. With a series of catchy hooks, mainstream sounds, and a shift in subject matter 5SOS has dedicated themselves to an image of post-fame perspective shaped by the groups growth.
The album’s first released single, “Want You Back”, is the closest the group gets to their old sound. However, there are still elements to the track that showcase the recognizably different sound the group is pushing towards. The opening single introduces a groovy and bouncy vibe that is consistent through most of the album. “Want You Back” is a prime example of the progression that the group has made over the past four years.
“Youngblood”, the album’s title track and second single is a bass-driven track laced with synths and drums that add another note of new-era pop to the album. The vocals on the track are distinct to 5SOS’s older sound with lead singer, Luke Hemmings, belting out, “So I’m just a dead man crawling tonight/’Cause I need it, yeah I need it/All of the time/Yeah, ooh ooh ooh”. While the track plays with synths and key-progressions utilized in modern pop, there are still shades of the group’s punk and rock backgrounds.
Hemmings performance on the album is nothing short of amazing, as he formats his voice to fit on a variety of different sounds. His voice is perfect for traditional punk rock and he has begun lending his talents to the likes of pop music. Hemmings follows right along with the groups progression using his voice in a number of different ways to fit this new sound.
Multiple times throughout the album, we hear aspects of 5SOS’s punk rock sound shine through their new sound. Tracks like “Moving Along”, “More”, and “Babylon” all show off the rock sound that created their fame. Dropping pop beats and synths, these tracks let the instrumentalists of the group shine through. On all these tracks along with several others, lead guitarist Michael Clifford especially shows off his talents and builds rock tracks with simple and catchy guitar riffs. In an album filled with new sounds and synths that create notes of pop and EDM music, the simplistic rock tracks remind us of how 5SOS created their fame.
There are also times on the album where the group combines elements of their punk rock foundation with the newer pop sounds they look to reinvent themselves on. “Monster Among Men” is one of these tracks. We once again hear Clifford’s guitar build the track into something similar to 5SOS’s earlier music. However, the catchy chorus in which we hear Hemmings exclaim, “Oh, no, don’t wanna be a monster among men” over and over, their pop rebuilding is clear and present.
“Monster Among Men”, along with other tracks like “Ghost Of You”, even give the group’s sound a particular indie rock vibe that transforms their direction into something fresher than just their newer pop tracks. With the sounds of acoustic guitars layered underneath Hemmings softer vocals takes the aggression and spunk of the group down a few notches. These lighter tracks again show the progression and growth of 5SOS and the reflective looks they’ve taken at their sound. It also shows that this growth is not only based on the pop and dance synths added to their tracks, but instead on a shift in instrumental and vocal depth.
The album as a whole exemplifies how 5 Seconds of Summer has channeled other artists and bands to formulate this new sound. We hear elements of 80’s and 90’s rock and pop through certain guitar riffs and a subtle emphasis on the group’s drums. Aside from the instrumental similarities, Hemmings vocals can be compared to a number of artists that made their fame in modern pop. Hemmings voice sometimes sounds similar to that of Fall Out Boy lead singer Patrick Stump or even pop and folk star Ed Sheeran. This range of similarities is key in 5SOS’s musical growth, as they’ve left behind their old punk rock sound for softer tones and melodies.
5 Seconds of Summer’s latest album has changed the way in which listeners view the group. In some cases, this change has been received well by their audience who is willing to stick with the group despite their changing dynamic. In others, people have criticized the group for abandoning their older sound and moving past their punk phase.
With the mixed reception of Youngblood, 5SOS has officially transformed their sound and the audiences they are capable of reaching. Shifting from just a young punk rock group to an aged group of transformable musicians, the group has explored and displayed their capabilities. The new sound of the group, although risky for their older audience, has shown their growth not only as musicians but as men. The entire concept behind the album is their growth from young and partying rock stars to seasoned and experienced musicians struggling with the pressures of fame.
Youngblood has revamped 5SOS not only in their musical sound, but in their popularity as well. The album has beat out a number of hip-hop and rap albums released this summer to earn the number one spot on the Billboard 200 list. This achievement has earned the group a new level of notoriety in the music community and has shown that the group’s new sound is more than capable with competing with other prominent artists.
5 Seconds of Summer has broken out of their old shell and formed something new. They have taken the traditional punk rock sounds that they built their success on and merged it with a modern pop vibe. They’ve completely revamped not only their sound, but their image as well. Their growth is extraordinary and has resulted in an album packed with hits. Youngbloodis the turning point that 5SOS needed in order to achieve this musical growth and transformation. On their third studio album, the group has been able to achieve this progression and create a great album simultaneously, showcasing the depth and raw talent of the Australian band.