Photo Credit: Scottie Cameron
Brought on by the stillness of the world, 5 Seconds of Summer’s lead vocalist Luke Hemmings found himself reflecting on his life over the past few years. In this forced stillness Hemmings found himself confronting demons and thoughts that he had pushed away while his life consisted of writing music, recording, and touring. Hemmings dealt with these new emotions the way he knew best: writing songs. When Facing the Things We Turn Away From is a reflective body of work, and the second solo album from a member of 5 Seconds of Summer, following drummer Ashton Irwin’s SUPERBLOOM, which was released last October.
When Facing the Things We Turn Away From takes an introspective stance and we see Hemmings contemplating everything from life in the spotlight to imposter syndrome. This kind of raw openness comes as Hemmings faces some big life events such as proposing to his girlfriend, Sierra Deaton. The opening track gives us a glimpse into how Hemmings’ life has been since skyrocketing to fame as a teenager. “I wake up every morning with the years ticking by // I’m missing all these memories maybe they were never mine // …I think I missed the gun at the starting line,” he belts on the chorus.
The production throughout the album takes a slight backseat to the lyrical depth that Hemmings provides. Swirling synths engage in a tug of war between power and restraint. Acoustic guitars add to the inherent intimacy and play on the softness of the songs. Each song is simultaneously consistent and different, immersing the listener in their own universe where they can explore whatever feelings are plaguing them at the time. Tracks start slowly and build throughout, ending at an emotional climax and providing relief by the end of the album.
Standout tracks include “Mum”, “Place in Me”, and “Repeat.” “Mum” is an open letter to his mother, sharing his appreciation for her, and concludes it with a beautiful outro of guitars and soft vocals. The intimacy of leaving a voicemail is captured on “Place in Me” as Hemmings delivers a heartfelt apology after letting someone down. In an interview, Hemmings revealed that “Repeat” is about “the endless feeling of chasing something so long…only to wind up back at the beginning – unrecognizable to yourself.” The powerful closer, “Comedown” finds Hemmings accepting and embracing these new feelings that he’d been pushing away over the years.
While this is technically a debut album for Luke Hemmings as a solo artist, his almost 10 years of writing experience with 5 Seconds of Summer give him a leg up to produce a stunning collection of songs that read like a musical diary. The global experience of shutting down and becoming still allowed this almost universal feeling, and these songs can encapsulate one to all of the emotions coursing through the population. Hemmings faced the things that he had been turning away from and emerged stronger on the other end. While more solo music from Hemmings is not guaranteed, it’s safe to say that he has a tough act to follow with a solo debut as strong as this one.