ALBUM REVIEW: 5 Seconds Of Summer – CALM

Release Date: March 27th 2020
Label: Interscope Records/Polydor Records


Continuing on from the sonic experimentation of ‘Youngblood’, Australian pop-rockers 5 Seconds Of Summer have incorporated some industrial influences on its follow-up, ‘CALM’.

Taking their ability to craft hook laden tracks and delving deeper into dense textures, 5 Seconds Of Summer continue to expand on their new sonic landscape.

Opening with a heavy gospel vocal delivery from Luke Hemmings, ‘Red Desert’ creates a broad contrast from previous releases. A slow burning and vocally rich track, swirling melodies and staggering beats compliment pulsing bass lines and an engulfing chorus.

After the gradual release of the opener, ‘No Shame’ delivers a light and breezy pop track. Whilst the industrial influence is present within the grunge-flecked verses, it opens up with a falsetto led choruses. The stylistic changes are continued with ‘Old Me’, a song that combines rapid-fire vocals and flanged guitars to showcase the quartet’s ability to slide between genres.

Following on from the lounge keyboards of ‘Old Me’, ‘Easier’ crafts bouncing vocal hooks over first wave industrial beats and bass lines. Working in synchronicity helps the track to worm around the falsetto notes of Hemmings without ever seeming disjointed.

Arguably the most directly industrial influenced track on the record, ‘Teeth’ arrives deceptively exposed before unfurling Calum Hood‘s growling bass line and Ashton Irwin‘s snapping beats. Whilst it may be one of the more economically written tracks on offer here, ‘Teeth’ displays how well the quartet can combine dark undertones and sweet vocal hooks.

Dropping the pace for ‘Best Years’, Michael Clifford utilises restrained and lingering chords to compliment Hemmings‘ croon. Whilst his playing throughout the record may not be at the forefront for the majority, Clifford creates a subtle yet impactful bridge that could’ve easily relied on vocal ad-libs.

Whilst the first half of the record sits within dark and pulsing pop rock, the second half focuses on a more exposed side of the quartet. Whereas ‘Wildflower’ stands out due to its The Beach Boys-esque vocal melodies, ‘Lover Of Mine’ shines with its hypnotic acoustic finger-picking, and brooding, surging bass lines.

Ending on the hypnotic and tender ‘High’, 5 Seconds Of Summer have created a record that not only delivers well-written pop songs, but also carves out a new soundscape for them. Where most groups try to move away from their original style with mixed results, ‘CALM’ proves that it can be achieved.