Albumby5 Seconds of Summer
Released in 2018, 16 tracks, 51 min
A Different and Better Sound for the Third Album
Australian pop band, 5 Seconds of Summer released their third studio album after taking a three year hiatus. The band came back with new music, a new sound, and made a splash. Youngblood is an album centered around their new sound and them maturing as a band. It discusses topics like breakups, hookups, Japan, and metaphors. The album quickly became one of my all time favorite albums on the account that I can and will literally listen to it a million times a day if I could. The first two albums were very candy rock, if you will, while the band fought for the title band rather than boyband, and I personally think they achieved just that with Youngblood. The album debuted at number one on Billboard’s top 200, which made the Aussie’s the first band with three top number ones.
Making A New Sound For Themselves
To begin the album, we start with Title song, “Youngblood.” This song is a song about the push and pull of a relationship. The promotional single was used to move the band away from the previous sounds on the last two albums and transition them to the new more mature sounding 5SOS. It features some snazzy snaps that lead to a deep bass that carry out through the entirety of the song. It is followed by a slower song, “Want You Back. Is a song that tells the story of a love that never truly ends. It shows a person who still loves their ex despite being broken up. It offers a bit of an electronic sound with a distorted sound bit. It too has a prominent bass that meets up with the rest of the band in the chorus. Following it up with another song about a relationship that is over, “Lie to Me.” “Lie to Me” is a song about a relationship that is over even though you really don’t want it to be, but the other person is happy and moved on. It’s got some somber lyrics but over an upbeat tempo that makes it catchy. The deep moody tune offers an infectious bass riff that carries the song. It is an easy going song that I would classify as vibes. The band even made what is basically their version of “All I Want For Christmas is You” but Valentine’s Day edition. “Valentine” is a song about a love that is free and is reciprocated on a day to day basis rather than only on the day of love. This song is perfectly the Valentine’s version of the Mariah Carey hit because it is equally as infectious. With an easy going beat and lyrics that are easy to learn and memorize I dare someone to listen without singing it. A bit of a throwback tune with a modernized twist, “Talk Fast.” This song is about their lives at the time, going out and enjoying life while having a few hookups along the way. The beat is super fun and kind of reminds me of that workout video meme, you know the one right?
Growing Up And Maturing With A New Sound
Moving on to “Move Along,” a song that is heavy on the drums. It is reminiscent on a time after a breakup when you return to a place the both of you used to go but now you are alone and you need to move on. All I have to say about the instruments in this one is wow. Those. Drums. Holy. Next is a song that is so super fun and boppy that anyone could get into it, “If Walls Could Talk.” The song is about secrecy. Whether it is secrecy of a relationship or an intimate time, it surrounds the walls that are the only ones who know this secret. To go along with the secrecy of the song, the tune is guitar driven, with their vocals mixing together in the chorus before breaking into an instrumental genius. Moving on we have a song that is personal for guitarist, Michael Clifford. He has spoken on song, “Better Man” and confirmed that it is about his fiancé coming into his life and making him a better man-- how freaking cute. The song has a bit of a build up effect, with claps and the instruments and then it all comes together in the chorus for a beautiful love song. A song that is super dope and has a few Arctic Monkeys vibes, “More.” The song is about a divide in a relationship that begins to cause problems and you wish you could go back to a time when the relationship was better. The song begins with an amazing guitar riff that makes an appearance throughout the song and a powerful head banging chorus. A song that I can only imagine is personal for the whole band, “Why won’t You Love Me.” The song is about trying to find love despite being on the road and following their dreams, and offers some whiny vocals and drumtastic chorus, but not as drumtastic as “Move Along.”
Amnesia Part 2?
The next song is seemingly just to create a visual of Japan. “Woke Up In Japan” is a bit of a slower tempo that talks all about a trip to Japan. Fun fact of the day, it was recorded in one take, never say I never taught you anything. It is very bass and snap driven, which is a key part to their new sound, but the next song is piano driven. “Empty Wallets” is a song that can go two ways, the obvious way being you fall in love and spending all of your money on that person. It could also be a depiction of the time of their lives when they went out, in “Talk Fast,” and spent their money on drinks and clubs and spent it just to show it off. With a catchy beat and quickened tempo, it is sure to get anyone to sing along. Even the poorest of us sing to it, it just hits us a little different when he says that we are dancing on empty wallets… However, we come to a song that will make you cry. “Ghost of You” is a song that some speculates to be a part two to an old song, “Amnesia.” It is a song about losing a loved one either by death or breakup and not being able to come to terms with the fact they will never come back. It is a beautiful ballad that includes a bit of a sad piano tone that ends up closing the song up. Next we have “Monster Among Men.” “Monster Among Men” is a song about unintentionally hurting someone you love. You don’t mean to, you can’t control it. You keep making stupid mistakes that cause heartache but you don’t want to be pegged as a monster. “Monster Among Men” has a bit of a fun boppity bop beat that includes not snaps but claps. The song that took the name of the tour, “Meet You There.” This song is about a long distance relationship and trying to make it work despite the ups and downs of it, but eventually settling on allowing fate to decide if you are meant to be together or not. It has a swanky bass to begin it and an amazing chorus that has a Fast and Furious feel. Last song on the album features a metaphor. “Babylon” is used as a metaphor for a relationship that is doomed. Babylon was a city that met its doom and was destroyed and the song talks about a relationship that was once powerful and strong but deteriorated over time. It is a song meant to be heard live and incorporates a few electronic nuances. Overall, the album and the new sound are amazing. My favorite isn’t when a band gets a new sound, but when a band gets a new sound that suits them… that is what dreams are made of.
5 Seconds of summer leave rock behind for good on Youngblood, and deliver a pop album all the way.
When 5 Seconds of Summer ditches their guitar noise and drummer Ashton Irwin’s rocking rhythms, synth takes over on Youngblood, with some big hits, and quite a few throwaway tracks, which suffer from having no identity of their own. 16 tracks is kind of a tall order for a Pop album, which this surely is, and the derivative, sometimes repetitive offerings here bloat up a record, which should have repped Australia’s natural propensity for excellent Pop music, from the newer Empire of the Sun to the older stalwarts, INXS. Thankfully, the tracks that do work are quite memorable.
5 Seconds of Summer should have taken their good songs here and multiplied them.
“Want You Back” is so frickin’ good. It actually sounds like something a similar, in my opinion more intriguing pop rock band, The 1975, would have made. The biggest grin breaks out on my face as I am swept up in the adorable electronic build up of the hook on this song, and I can unabashedly jump and dance as it crests into it’s catchy synthetic hook. And this is supposed to be sort of a sad song – with lead singer Luke Hemmings heartbroken over the lingering ghost of his ex’s affection; “No matter where I go, I'm always gonna want you back.” Other stellar songs come in the form of motoring synth swinger “Youngblood”, the title track, with its balance of balladry and Marilyn Manson industrial groove metal. “Woke Up In Japan” is a sexy lazy groove that mixes more of the rock quality 5 Seconds used to employ, and serves as a minor standout, albeit with a great over-limiting vocal hook.
Too many bands and styles are mimicked on this Pop effort
“Valentine” is so Twenty One Pilots. This is not really a diss aimed at Twenty One, but it’s more a comment about an established band known for this style doing it in a better way (even if I don’t dig said band that much). The song “Moving Along” mixes bands Sublime and Magic!, and except for a really awesome series of drum fills, ceases to hold my attention. “If Walls Could Talk” sounds too much like Panic at the Disco!. “Empty Wallets” is another Twenty One rip, from the drum pattern to the overdubbed nonsensical chorus. “Monster Among Men” is a clap along cringe moment that, while it does switch up it’s tempo a few times, sounds like one of One Direction’s more vapid, pandering to pre-teen tracks. They don’t want to be monster’s among men? What does that even mean? The drama here is so manufactured.
Trim out all the fat and you might not have an album left unfortunately
Perhaps the pinnacle of ‘blah’ on Youngblood is the reggae fusion cop-out “Better Man.” This song is unforgivably generic. It is a dead fish of a track, ripping from the most formulaic aspects of a sub genre that was about as overplayed as the Latin Reggaeton influence is now. Tropical house vocally warped ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ pepper the backbeat of the hook for literally no reason except that it’s exactly what every other artist was doing. The main vocals follow a similarly uninspired pattern used by every pop artist and their mother. Choices like these make me think that the band is in crisis mode, jaded that they couldn’t create a viable lane for themselves post One Direction vacancy, so before producing the next album, they really need to have a pow wow, perhaps study up on some more varied musical subject matter, and either Rock out or Pop out in a much more original way befitting of their undeniable talents.
Official Music Videos
- Jun 15, 2018