5SOS5 is 5 Seconds of Summer's fifth studio album, one that marks a new creative era for the band over a decade into their career. It is very obvious that they had more creative freedom while making this album than some of their previous releases, with it being largely self-written, produced and performed by every member of the band for the first time. I have been a huge fan of 5SOS since their debut album was released in 2014 and I have truly loved seeing how much their artistry has grown and evolved since that time. Just when I think they have reached their peak with an album like Youngblood or with CALM, they always find a way to come back even better than before. The progression of their sound and style has always been very natural and has done nothing but improve since their debut album.

In many ways, 5SOS5 actually feels like a more mature version of their debut album, as if they are reintroducing themselves to their audience as the band they are today. I also love that the album title is a play off their self-titled debut album too. It takes aspects of all of their individual musical influences and personal experiences and mixes it all together in a perfect way. There is such a varied sound when it comes to the track list, which is also much longer than many of their previous albums with 19 songs on the deluxe version. Notable sonic influences include U2, Coldplay, Tame Impala and more. "It is absolutely diverse in every sense and the band has really pushed to attain a grounded identity in pop and rock. It has really progressed in both lanes. The pop songwriting has been worked on and we love melodic songwriting, hooks and unique concepts. But on the other hand, the rock side of the band has improved in terms of the recording itself, and I have been more into the musicianship," said Ashton Irwin in an interview with Wonderland Magazine.

Some of the pop punk elements that are present on songs like "Best Friends", "Emotions", and "Moodswings" feel like an homage to their early days as a band, which feels very full-circle for their journey so far. For that reason, I am surprised that their song titled "2011", released on their ten-year anniversary as a band in late 2021, wasn't included on this album because it feels very connected to the retrospective message of 5SOS5

Since their last release in 2020, two of the members have released solo projects and now since hearing 5SOS5, it is very evident how much of an impact those albums had on the creation of their collective work. The influences of drummer Ashton Irwin's Superbloom comes through in much of the songwriting with songs like "Bloodhound" and "TEARS!", among others. Luke Hemmings, lead singer and guitarist of the band, released When Facing The Things We Turn Away From in 2021, which I hear even more influence from throughout the majority of the album, but especially with tracks like "Older" featuring Sierra Deaton, "Carousel", and "Easy For You To Say". 

It is their strongest lyrically, there are so many songs that I would consider to be some of the best they have ever written. The imagery within the lyrics is also a stand-out aspect of the album - whether it the bleach washing down the drain, diamond tears hitting the ground, or a carousel spinning around, there is a moment from almost every song that is just so beautifully written and conveys so much emotion. I would also say it is one of their most cohesive projects yet, they really seem to have a grasp on their sound and who are as a band. "The album is definitely very introspective. I think, like a lot of people in the last couple years, the only way to look was inward - For us, anyway. Lyrically looking into everything that’s ever happened to us has been a big sort of topic, and not doing this every day and being on the road was kind of a different experience for us. For me, the whole album is the most introspective and the most lyrically beautiful. There’s just so much heart in it," said Luke Hemmings in an interview with Apple Music. 

"Complete Mess" is the opening track of the album and also the first single that was released prior to the album's release. This song feels so representative of the new sound that follows the rest of the album and into the next era of their career. Everything about the production, lyricism, and vocal performances are top tier. "This song was the first time in the writing process that the band really felt we got it right. We had found our sound and knew what we were aiming for. We’re really proud of that in this chorus, it all happened so quickly within an hour," they said in their Spotify commentary.

They further expand on that momentum with the anthemic second track, "Easy For You To Say". "Many songs on the album reflect on metamorphosis, moving forward by getting through obstacles that have been stuck in your way for a long time. When we wrote this, we hadn’t been home for a long time and the Sydney lyric is really important. Thinking about where you want to end up and perhaps settle down in the city we grew up in." I absolutely love this song, the instrumentals are so layered and sound amazing - it has grown on me so much since the first time I heard it. There are so many great lyrical moments on this song too - "A youth that was stolen and filled with mistakes, I turned all around, looked for someone to blame," as well as, "I feel it in moments, a semblance of free, Between all the gaspin', I finally breathe, So I hold on so tightly in times that I see, Someone with striking resemblance to me," being another great moment that flows like poetry.

"Bad Omens", is an incredible song and easily one of the best they ever made, the vocals and production are especially some of their best work yet. I can actually see this being a future classic from their discography, it is so well done in every aspect. It incorporates every element that makes this band so special and encapsulates everything I have always loved about 5SOS as a whole. The U2 influence is very strong on this, which is recurring throughout much of this album, as well as much of their recent work. I have seen them live four times over the years and something that has always stood out to me about their music is how much their songs are elevated when performed in a live setting. With "Bad Omens" in particular, it is already such an immersive-sounding studio recording, that I can't even imagine how much better it will get on stage.  

So much of this album feels very rooted in California, both sonically and aesthetically, especially the track "Take My Hand (Joshua Tree Version)". That song feels very representative of the overall theme of 5SOS5 and the stage of life the band is in, both as individuals and collectively. Much of the album was written and recorded in Joshua Tree, which is a setting that feels so present in every single song. It really does feel like it transports the listener to the California desert with this music. "This song was another blessing from Joshua Tree. We wrote it on our second trip out there. We tried re-recording a bunch of vocals, but we just never really beat the magic of that first recording, and in some parts, you can actually hear the other three of us talking in the background of the other room," they said in their Spotify commentary. "There’s an inner dialogue with songwriting, in the last couple years we really hit a stride and tapped into it. There are times to wrestle a song and perfect it, but this one came in such a natural, sincere way and we wanted to stay true to that."

Another aspect of this album I love is that Luke, Ashton, Michael and Calum all have the chance to really shine individually through various vocal solos and entire songs that pander to their varied musical influences. This hasn't really been the case with their past two albums when Luke was the primary vocalist on nearly every song. Although Luke is someone who has always been one of my favorite vocalists ever, hearing all four of them sing at different parts of the album brings me back to where it all began with the band - but now even stronger. For example, on the chorus of "HAZE", Calum's vocals are better than I have ever heard from him before. This song has a heavy Tame Impala influence, but also once again reminds me a lot of bands like U2 and Coldplay. It feels quite reminiscent of the type of music Wallows makes, specifically their song "Remember When", but I personally think 5SOS executes this style better. The electric guitar riff and 90s alternative rock elements are some of the standout moments of this album. 

Another highlight of mine is "You Don't Go To Parties", which has been one of my most played songs off the album since I first heard it. The chorus is so well written and the melody is infectious. Once again, there are really great vocals from Calum on this song.

One of my absolute favorite songs is "BLENDER", which was even one of my top five played songs of the year. I love the pre-chorus and chorus so much, I haven't been able to get it out of my head since I first heard it. "All the things you said in my hеad, ricochetin' off the bed, nothin' left, what a mess, oh my god, it never ends, now we're stressed and depressed and we're goin' 'round again, in an emotional blender," Luke sings in the chorus. The sound feels very reminiscent of their Youngblood and CALM albums, which feels like this was meant to bridge the gap between those two albums and 5SOS5

"Older" is a beautiful song performed as a duet between Luke and his fiancé, Sierra Deaton. While I do like this song, it doesn't feel like it fits in sonically with the rest of 5SOS5 and some parts of the song do feel as if it is a demo version and not the finished product. I think it could have worked better as a track on Luke's solo album instead as it fits in more with the themes explored throughout that album. 

However, some of 5 Seconds of Summer's best songs, as well as some of Luke's best solo songs, were co-written with Sierra, namely "Lover of Mine", "Baby Blue" and 5SOS5's sixth track, "Carousel". "Carousel" at its core is the epitome of a 5 Seconds of Summer song - especially since it was co-written by all members of the band and produced by Michael Clifford. "We wrote with Sierra Deaton on this one. She has an innate ability to compound all our perceptions of the concept into one cohesive overarching storyline," they said in their Spotify commentary. Lyrically, it is simply some of the best they have ever written. There is a heavy Joni Mitchell influence within these lyrics, with many references to her song "The Circle Game", which I wrote about in depth for my review of Lorde's Solar Power album and the connections to her song "Stoned at the Nail Salon". Many of the same motifs of being captive on "the carousel of time" and trying to overcome the past are very present in this song too. It also reminds me of "Starting Line" by Luke and "Satellite" by Harry Styles, too. There are so many powerful lyrics that stand out to me as some of the best not only on this album, but best they have ever written. "My life's just a carousel spinning around, I'd pay again just to keep from stopping it now," "I try to keep my head up above the ocean of my doubt," and "Always looking back and I don't know why, something always there in the back of my mind, everybody's living on a one-way ride, how you gonna get thеre, get therе?" are among some of my favorites.

Some of my other highlights from the album come from the deluxe tracks, which I didn't even realize until I listened to this album on vinyl for the first time and found out the standard edition was missing some of the best songs on the album! When it comes to four out of the five bonus tracks, they are so good that they should have been on the main album, perhaps in place of some of the songs that drag on or get to be redundant in some areas of the track list. As much as I really love and enjoy almost every song on the album, I probably would've reworked the order of the track list a bit differently in general, but that is just a minor critique I have.

The first of the deluxe tracks is "Moodswings", which again feels like an ode to their early work, as if it's a grown-up and better version of a song like "Amnesia". Being a fan of their music since I was fourteen and their music being such a big part of my life from that time for nearly a decade, subtle sonic and stylistic references to that time is something I loved hearing from them in a new perspective throughout so much of this album. 

One of the best songs on the entire album is "Flatline", which features high falsetto vocals on the chorus from Luke and Calum, paired with a really fun guitar-driven pop sound. "Love the juxtaposition of the dark verse to the candy pop uplifting chorus with the running acoustic," they noted in their Spotify commentary. I truly can't believe that this song didn't make it onto the main track list of the album - if it were up to me, I would have made this one of the lead singles of the album because it really is just that great!

I have had 5SOS5 on repeat for months now and I am continuously finding new aspects of this album that I love more and more with each listen. This album is such a strong continuation of the artistic journey 5 Seconds of Summer is on and continues to build upon the foundation they set with their two most recent albums especially. It feels so representative of everything they have accomplished thus far, while still looking onward into the future of what the band is going to be. 

Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

photo credit: 5 Seconds of Summer, Andy Deluca, Ryan Fleming, Sarah Eisman

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