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Album Review // 5 SECONDS OF SUMMER ‘CALM’

Soaring vocals, addictive basslines, endearing lyrics, and infectious hooks are only a few of the reasons that you should turn the volume to MAX and bounce around your house to 5 Seconds Of Summer’s fourth album, CALM

5sos CALM 2020

When the Aussie quartet rose to fame in the early 2010s, a lot of people doubted they would be anything more than a punkier version of their One Direction tour mates. Years later and Calum Hood, Ashton Irwin, Luke Hemmings, and Michael Clifford are proving they are here to stay in style. Their newest release, CALM, is a raucous, lively commentary on relationships, personal growth, and more.

Before the album’s release, we were treated to five tracks – Easier, Teeth, No Shame, Old Me, and most recently Wildflower. Each of these banger tracks built on the album hype. From grungy Teeth to high energy No Shame, 5SOS have managed to burrow their infectious riffs and effective beat-drops into our ears. Wildflower brings the same energy as the previous singles but with a shift to their poppier side. The subtleness in the verses builds into the most enjoyable, danceable chorus on the album. The clever lyrical fill-in-the-blank is accentuated with fun bursts of energy. Wildflower is the summer anthem we all deserve.

The rest of CALM does not disappoint. Best Years is an apology track for all the trouble the narrator put their partner through whilst promising that the “future will be better than yesterday.” It is a beautifully atmospheric love song full of peaceful synths that swell with emotion as the chorus builds. Playing with the common theme of “I’m sorry for being less of a man and for letting you get away,” which is a subject of many songs on this album, Best Years feels cathartic and optimistic. There is hope in these lyrics.

In the beginning, Lover Of Mine is cut from the same jib as Wildflower. Fingerpicking and dreamy piano set the stage for a handsome indie track. However, that fades into a vibrating bass that reverberates through your whole body. You can hear the inspiration this track took from the musical stylings of the late Jeff Buckley. Written with Luke Hemming’s girlfriend, Sierra Deaton, Lover Of Mine is another charming track.

Opening with a catchy bassline, Thin White Lies feels heavier and louder both in lyrics and sound. It is easy to confuse ‘lies’ with ‘lines’; this euphemism to “thin white lines” is clever intentionality. It is about addiction – whether human or synthetic is how you choose to interpret the lyrics. There is one line on Thin White Lies that is brutally self-aware: “I don’t think I like me anymore / Can someone tell me who I was before?” Reaching that point of questioning means something has gone wrong, but you want to change and that is an important takeaway from this song.

The stark contrast between the first track, Red Desert, and the closing track, High, subtly teases the equally tumultuous insides of this record. While Red Desert is a harmonic thank you note to Australia, High is blatantly narcissistic. The chilled-out song features breathier vocals from Hemmings and is sweet in an unassuming way. It isn’t until he goes into the chorus with “I hope you think of me high / I hope you think of me highly” that you realize just how self-serving High is. The relationship between the opening and closing tracks brings the themes of CALM full circle.

5SOS have created something spectacular with their fourth studio record, CALM. They have successfully proven their merit through their addicting, irresistible genre-blending songs, standout vocals, and enchantingly honest writing. Until we can hear these songs live, at-home dance parties with a heavy rotation of these twelve tracks will suffice.