It has been three years since we last heard from the Australian foursome who were first thrust into the spotlight opening for the English quintet (later turned foursome, as well), One Direction. Although One Direction were the teeny bopper boyband of our 21st century dreams, 5 Seconds of Summer always had more of an edge. They were young, talented garage rockers whose knowledge of slamming guitar riffs and catchy melodies stemmed from their adoration of bands like Blink-182 and Green Day. Now, growing further and further away from their One Direction induced limelight, 5SOS has gone purely pop.
Youngblood, their third major label album, is years ahead of its time. For a band still so young and impressionable, doing an almost complete 180 from the music that got them their start just a mere four years ago is a dangerous feat. You could lose your momentum, your fanbase, and your shot at being music industry-candy, but these four did it with grace and ease. Not to mention that this new record is not just a subtle form of rebranding, it also shows the world more sides to the once punk influenced teens.
Granted, what is deemed pop in 2018 is not always the pop we all expect, but the sound isn’t too far from the ‘90s boyband feeling that we all know and love. Sure, 5SOS has created a much more mature sound — and it is still completely relevant to today’s music scene — but it doesn’t sound like it is trying too hard to fit in on the air waves. The opening song, also the title-track, was the record’s second single. Released back in April, “Youngblood” is a pulsating, New Wave style song that was destined to be a hit. The chorus is a powerhouse in itself, making it one of the most memorable — and successful — songs to come from the album. It spent four straight weeks at number one in their home country, but with that bassline and those vocals, I’m not surprised.
Strong basslines can be found throughout a majority of the record — as can heavy drum beats — but when the drums stand out, they really stand out. The bonus track, “Meet You There”, is the audible proof that Ashton Irwin can crush a drumset, literally. The song is a upbeat, pop rager with a soul-awakening chorus. The beat almost drops like in an EDM track numerous times, but it’s simply Irwin keeping a passionate pace in the forefront of the song. Drums — usually in the background with the occasional solo — pop out in this rocking deluxe edition track.
“Valentine” is only the fourth song in, but it gives off another vibe in itself. It’s still pop, but laced with alternative rock undertones that create a sound reminiscent of the early days of Arctic Monkeys. Although “Do You Wanna Know?” was a smash hit in 2013, there are no complaints here, because it was one for a reason. “Moving Along” seems to have challenged the band’s inner songwriter, as it calls back to the confused, heartbreak-fueled teen lyrics that the band had previously been known for. Yet, it is more concise and much more grown up than before. The almost 22-year-old Luke Hemmings stuns as he sings, “Is it wrong if I ask you to come over?/Is it wrong if I tell you that I love you?/Even though I’d never do it when I’m sober/Is it wrong?”
Overall, I’m so happy that this record came out the way it did and when it did. Fans have the whole summer to play it on repeat, get acquainted with this new style, and make it one of this summer’s big hits. In all honesty though, the production of this record is miles above Sounds Good Feels Good. There’s more of an intricacy to it, the stylistic growth evident in every track. The band co-wrote almost every song on the album — and the album has 16 songs on it! In my eyes, 5 Seconds of Summer’s Youngblood is the equivalent to Paramore’s After Laughter. It’s nothing less than what they’ve done before; it’s simply growth, change, evolution, and experimentation. For Paramore, it paid off, and I believe it will for 5 Seconds of Summer, too.