Photo Credit: Andy DeLuca
Following their colossal success with Youngblood in 2018, 5 Seconds of Summer have produced something with this latest effort that is intended to cement their position within the music industry. Their new album Calm is a collection of songs, while being fun and fresh, also target a demographic in a way their previous work had never done before. As the pop industry grows mundane and one-note, the band tries to usher in a new era.
Opening with “Red Dessert”, we hear glimpses of their reformed sound as they try to resonate with listeners about change with moments of sincere self-reflection that is complemented by harrowing vocals and traditional rock. This is, however, an album that shines through its singles. The pack consisting of “No Shame”, “Old Me”, “Teeth” and “Easier” represent the trademark 5SOS sound, which is pop rock with an optimistic narrative. The songs are even more enhanced by Luke Hemmings’ powerful vocals. “Old Me” reminisces of the old days of the band with its catchy lyrics, while “Teeth” takes the route of pop rock complemented by the ever flexible voice of its lead singer.
“Wildflower” is the standout track on the album by far. It is the longest form of departure from all their trademark rock influences but it also somehow manages to be the perfect fit for Calm. With an extremely catchy 80s- inspired sound that can give the “Stranger Things” intro a run for its money. The bassist Calum Hood takes the reins as the lead singer and we couldn’t ask for more. With the potential to be a fan favorite, it proves how far 5SOS have evolved in their production and sound.
“Not in the Same Way” and “Thin White Lies” pale in comparison of the chartbuster credentials of the former track, resulting in them being nothing more than one-time listens only. Although, as simplistic and less impactful as they sound, they might be regarded as the more underrated tracks of the bunch if revisited. However, Calm attempts to close with a melancholic touch, like how one would like to see their favorite TV series end – with the uneasiness of letting it go combined with a form of satisfaction and closure. “High” carries out all of the emotions one would feel after a break-up. In its bare fragility, the song is a testament to Luke Hemmings’ capability of keeping that high-energy spunk while still remaining vulnerable.
Overall, Calm is most definitely a resurgence and victory for 5 Seconds of Summer. They are one of the last of their kind, considering their longevity as a pop rock band and the fact that a lot of people might have initially written the group off as a boy band. This is a band that doesn’t shy from experimenting with their technical assets while staying true to their roots of anthemic rock, catchy pop lyrics and displaying human fragility every now and then.