Review by: Carmen Mueller
Finally, the day has come! After a three year hiatus, the Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer released their third full-length studio album Youngblood. For those of you who have been following the Aussies and their journey, it is easy to see how their sound has totally changed. Their debut album had a much younger sound, while their sophomore album Sounds Good Feels Good was overflowing with teenage angst. Long gone are the days where the boys felt the need to prove themselves; and this album is full of the boys having a vision and going for it. What is this album all about? Youngblood focuses on relationships: the highs, lows, and inevitable heartbreak that comes with broken love.
This is no longer the same 5SOS that performed Green Day’s “American Idiot” on their tours; this albums is jam packed with a subtler sound. The first track “Youngblood” opens with soft guitars and Hemmings’ smooth voice. The chorus builds with all the boys singing, falsetto notes, and a heavier guitars. Their first single, “Want You Back” follows a similar style. Simple piano and guitars paired with Hemming’s falsetto which works on a song that talks all about yearning for a lost love. “Lie to Me” features a scenario that many people can relate to: being the only one willing to make love work and remaining in denial about the whole situation. It’s a sweet song, and one of the ballads on the album. “Valentine” gives off an Arctic Monkey’s vibe; it’s dark, ominous and uses electronic elements to play off the heavier drums and guitars. It presents the idea of celebrating your love on every day of the year and not only on Valentine’s Day. “Talk Fast” is an upbeat track about wanting to make the most out of each other’s time; who cares how long we have, let’s dive in regardless. “Move Along” tells the tale of a bitter outlook on love and regretting the choice to walk away from it. It has strong drumming from Ashton Irwin and creates a will-sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs type of feeling.
“If Walls Could Talk” illustrates the fear that would arise if all of their secrets were laid out for the world to see. Maybe some things are best left unsaid, but felt instead. A very Ed Sheeran-esque track, “Better Man” really plays with a simple beat but with a very danceable feel. “More” brings back the guitars for a twist, reminiscent of the hit “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX. If you want a track about yearning for a love that just will not be reciprocated, that song is “Why Won’t You Love Me”. You can’t help but feel bad for how lonely the boys sound in this song. And this trails into “Woke Up in Japan”; a simple track filled with airy vocals and the wishing for a meaningful love. A very relatable song, “Empty Wallets” plays off of the idea of Sounds Good Feels Good’s “Money”; spend all you have on your love because money means nothing when it comes to spoiling the one you care about the most. Probably the song that will cause a few meltdowns is “Ghost of You”, because no matter how hard you try, sometimes the person that you thought would be there forever disappears and the only way you can forget is to drink away the pain. That’s enough to make me shed a tear. This closes off the standard edition, but let’s not skip over the deluxe songs.
Prepare for possibly the most experimental 5SOS we have seen so far. They really switch it up with the production in a way that is super unexpected. Beginning the deluxe is, “Monster Among Men”, a track that tells the story of someone refraining from love because they know they are a toxic person. It plays a lot with the beat but is nowhere near as experimental as the last two tracks. “Meet You There” plays with various sounds: cowbells, synth, and electronic effects start off the song and then later bring in the guitars. But “Babylon” is the most unconventional for the boys. The opening sounds like something that would play as you watch an MMA fight and the most vocal manipulation happens in this song. If you’re an OG 5SOS fan, this song may take you for a surprise.
Overall, I think this is a really strong album to come out of hiatus with. Clearly, the boys really wanted the time to curate their new sound, and it definitely shows. In comparison this album does a lot differently than their past projects. Luke Hemmings is essentially the driving vocalist on most of the songs where Calum Hood and Michael Clifford get a few verses. The drumming by Ashton Irwin is far more subdued, and they play with vocal distortion and more electronic sounds than they have before.
As someone who has followed 5SOS since 2013, I can tell that they have definitely grown up through this album. It leaves behind the teenage angst and takes the time to play around with their sound. This album is one that is definitely on trend with the type of music that is popular right now, and it was time for a change of pace. Artists should change things up from time to time, or else we would be hearing the same songs over and over again. I’m glad to see the boys really invested and excited by this project, and after multiple listens, I can understand why.