June 15, 2018 5 Seconds of Summer – Youngblood (Album Review)
The rockin’ Aussie boys 5 Seconds of Summer might be a little older and a little wiser, but they will forever be young at heart! Testifying to this, Youngblood arrives June 15, 2018, thanks to Capitol Records.
It has been a wild ride for the lads of 5 Seconds of Summer, who got their start as teens putting Pop Punk covers onto YouTube. As fate would have it, that would snowball into a career that led Rolling Stone to deem the band the “biggest new Rock act in the world!” Truth be told, they are the only band in history to see their first two full-length albums – 2014’s 5 Seconds of Summer and 2015’s Sounds Good Feels Good – enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1. Their self-titled debut alone has sold more than three million units worldwide, propelling the band’s career and helping to earn an American Music Award, a People’s Choice Award, an iHeartRadio Music Award, five MTV European Music Awards, two ARIA Awards and an MTV Video Music Award. Oh yes, and they know a little something about rabid fangirls, having toured with One Direction!
On the heels of their Sounds Good Feels Good Tour in 2016, and at the height of fan hysteria, the members of 5 Seconds of Summer decided to step-back and reset, to rediscover their musical focus. In search of new inspirations, the boys headed to Los Angeles, where they would ultimately collaborate with an eclectic array of writers and producers, including Producer Noah Passovoy (P!nk, Maroon 5); Producer Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, Mastodon); Justin Tranter (Imagine Dragons, Fall Out Boy); hitmaking duo Andrew Watt and Ali Tamposi (the team behind Camila Cabello’s “Havana”); Swedish production and writing team Carl and Rami (Nicki Minaj, One Direction); J Kash (Maroon 5, Charlie Puth); Asia Whitacre (Hailee Steinfeld, Zedd); and good friend Andrew Goldstein (Linkin Park, Simple Plan).
Having rediscovered themselves and recrafted their sound, 5 Seconds of Summer – Luke Hemmings (Vocals/Guitar/Piano), Michael Clifford (Vocals/Guitar), Calum Hood (Vocals/Bass) and Ashton Irwin (Vocals/Drums) – have prepared a truly diverse third studio album with Youngblood. The collection – which is presented in a 13-song standard format or a 16-song Deluxe Edition – sees 5 Seconds of Summer branching out and dipping their toes into a wide array of sounds, all while maintaining their signature lively spirit and sense of infectious fun; the end result is mature, stellar musicianship sitting alongside catchy lyrics that will make you want summer to truly last forever.
Youngblood opens to its title track, which starts out a swarthy vocal exercise with elements of R&B that grows into something super electrified, funkified, and will remind of, say, Fall Out Boy. Which means it’s freakin’ awesome! Then, they go for cool layers on the falsetto “Want You Back,” a longing that weaves a toe-tapping, hip-swaying medley that is infectious, while downtempo “Lie to Me” is a melancholic reminiscence of times past, loves gone, and lies expressed.
There is a sensual sway to the chocolatey-drizzled “Valentine,” layered harmonies that speak of combustion, sweet cherry pie (hello Warrant!), and staying home for some afternoon delights. Meanwhile, “Talk Fast” harkens back to the R&B-tinged Dance groups of the 1980s, a catchy as hell little bop that will entrance you and have you singing along first go-round.
Next, the quartet are chillin’ on the sofa naked with the funky groove of “Moving Along,” drinking and thinking about ladies of the past. Its successor, “If Walls Could Talk,” blends Hip Hop beats and a Vocal R&B/Pop style to weave something enjoyable, a track that forces your butt to dance in its seat. They continue the good times with the gentle Reggae-dusted, island feels of “Better Man,” a clap-along promise that love has made these boys greater.
The ‘80s creep back into the synths of “More,” helping to craft a sound that is half-way between Molly Ringwald and John Carpenter, all while the guys sing of wanting something, well, more. This ultimately segues into the downtempo trip of “Why Don’t You Love Me,” a fluttering beat, a plea for love. Meanwhile, “Woke Up In Japan” is like a dream within a dream, blending in synths and atmospherics and chugging guitars to author something that leans towards a kind of generic Pop Rock.
For old-school fans, it feels like the spirit of “Hey Everybody!” is embedded into the depths of the funky bass groove of “Empty Wallets,” dancing through the highs with the lows. Glittering guitars flow into “Ghost of You,” a ballad-esque offering that dances through the hallways of an empty house, chasing shadows and yesterday’s love.
Three additional bonus tracks extend the collection for the album’s Deluxe Edition. “Monster Among Men” goes big, bold, experimental layers of sounds that explode into something clap-along catchy. The verses of “Meet You There” have all the slick finesse of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” with choruses that go full-throttle, noisy rocking. Ultimately, they return to the super-catchiness and rocking sounds that evoke thoughts of Fall Out Boy on the fiery “Babylon,” an Icarus kiss goodbye.
On Youngblood, the quartet mix it up and blend together a zillion facets of Pop, from Rock to Vocal R&B, Hip Hop beats to 1980s synths. Their harmonies are to die for and, despite the experimental and diverse nature of the collection, 5 Seconds of Summer never once lose themselves in the journey. Rather, they grab the sonic bull by the horns and forge a new pathway in their young career, proving that their fame is bound to last more than Andy Warhol’s allotted fifteen seconds. Brilliantly catchy, entirely fun, but somehow still showing a maturity and a proud evolution, Youngblood is a career-altering album. One that you should own! For these reasons, CrypticRock give 5 Seconds of Summer’s Youngblood 5 of 5 stars.