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Media Reviews: “5 Seconds of Summer” by 5 Seconds of Summer

Grade: A

It’s not rare for an international artist to reach the U.S. Top 100 Billboard charts. In the past few years, English artists have been the ones to usually grab these spots. La Roux’s “Bulletproof” in 2009, Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team” in 2011 and Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” in 2014 have all spent time at the top of the charts. But now a group of Aussies are giving the British artists a run for their money.

Australian vocalist and guitarist Luke Hemmings started posting covers on YouTube in 2011; soon, classmates Michael Clifford (vocals and guitar) and Calum Hood (vocals and bass guitar) joined together and 5 Seconds of Summer was born. The band often goes by the shortened version 5SOS. After watching their viewer counts skyrocket to over 600,000, the trio decided to enlist drummer Ashton Irwin to complete the band. They quickly gained popularity, allowing the band to both open and headline shows across the world.

The band released their debut album in the United States on July 22, 2014. I ventured out to purchase the album at Target since they were selling a deluxe version that included four exclusive tracks for the same price that most stores were selling the regular version. If the shelves were any indication of the popularity of 5SOS, then you better be ready for an Aussie invasion. The shelves at the first Target I visited were completely empty, so I swung by another one and was able to score the last copy at the store. I was anxious to see how their debut album held up to all of the hype.

To be honest, it’s hard to put 5SOS into a definite genre. Some like to call them your “typical boy band.” However, these boys have talent—they play all their own instruments and each member brings their own dynamic vocals to the group. They wrote 15 out of the 16 tracks on the album. They list Blink 182, Green Day, All Time Low and Boys Like Girls as their influences. That being said, the album never feels like they are trying to imitate these influences, which gives them their own unique sound. Additionally, they have grabbed the attention of some heavy hitters to assist them on this album, with a song being written by the Madden brothers (Good Charlotte) and songs co-written with Alex Gaskarth (lead vocalist of All Time Low) and producer/writer John Feldmann (The Used, Plain White T’s and Story of the Year).

The album has a good mix of songs right for any mood you might find yourself in. “Amnesia,” the track penned by the Madden brothers, is a slower song filled with sorrow about a broken heart. “Everything I Didn’t Say” has the same vibe as “Amnesia” but with a slightly faster tempo.

The first single off the album, “She Looks So Perfect,” is the song that hit the radio airwaves and caught the attention of listeners. This song might not be the most lyrically or musically strong for the band, but it does its job of getting stuck in your head and having you hum along. Other songs like “18,” “Good Girls” and “Heartbreak Girl” play on the happy-go-lucky vibe and deal with typical teenage angst. These songs could easily be overlooked as just another bunch of cliche teenage anthems; however, the band has a way of writing each song with a clever twist that shows off their great sense of humor. “18” points out the troubles of wanting to grow up as we hear “my mom still drives me to school” while also joking about not getting too wild and turning into Charlie Sheen. In “Good Girls” they state, “good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught.” This is a song that is best listened to through headphones due to the whisper effects that add a unique dynamic level to the song.

With creatively constructed lyrics throughout the album, each track feels fresh and independent from one other while still remaining cohesive. Guitar riffs are kept edgy when they are needed for an uptempo song, but the band knows when to be subtle, allowing the vocals to really shine through in slower songs. Irwin’s drumming skills really stand out in tracks like “Don’t Stop,” “Kiss Me Kiss Me,” and “Long Way Home.”

This debut album is surprisingly impressive for a group of four boys between the ages of 18 and 20. It’s one of those albums that you pop into the car on a nice summer day and just cruise around listening to it. I’m excited for the future potential that 5 Seconds of Summer holds. It’s nice to see a band that is musically gifted and not manufactured like a majority of artists are on the radio today. Hopefully, 5SOS is able to pave the way for a future generation of musicians that do things their way. So, if you’re looking for an upbeat album that will have you singing along, check out 5 Seconds of Summer’s “self-titled” album.

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