Since bursting onto the pop-rock scene a few years back, Australians 5 Seconds Of Summer have been disregarded as a genuine band by supposed ‘real music’ fans. Their sugar-coated bubble-gum rock isn’t for everyone, and what minor punk elements they have are mostly hair-dye based or just general teenage angst.
However, on the band’s third full-length album, ‘Youngblood’, a record that took three years to put together, the quartet strip away from any form of rock and instead, deliver a surprisingly great pop record.
The most striking aspect of this LP is just how mature it is. There’s no more singing about hating being underage or crushing on pretty girls at all. Instead, the most part of the record is an ode to a broken relationship, and provides a heartfelt insight to a love turned sour. This is evident right from the off, as dance-fueled lead singles ‘Want You Back’ and the title-track provide good vibes to a desolate concept.
There’s a wide range of influences audible on the record too, with certain tracks modelling signature sounds of bands and styles. For example, the infectious chorus of ‘Valentine’ rings of more recent Artic Monkeys, reggae-bopping ‘Talk Fast’ is reminiscent of MAGIC!‘s 2014 one-hit-wonder ‘Rude’, and the cheeky, sluggish-groove of ‘Woke Up In Japan’ adopts a Panic! At The Disco jazz-incorporated sound. It’s pretty clear that the Aussie boys have honed in their pop music tastes here.
At times, ‘Youngblood’ does feel like it could be performed by anyone in the Top 40s chart, note ‘Better Man’ and ‘More’ for example. Yet, it could also be said that you could take your pick of pretty much any of the album’s 13 tracks to be a radio-favourite single, and they’re all worthy of being so.
There’s rarely a moment where the up-tempo, chunky dance electronics let up, but one particular moment where the band do is on the heart-breaking ‘Ghost Of You’. It’s as much of a break-up song as you’ll ever hear, and a certain tear jerker.
It might be the furthest thing from an alternative release, but as pop records go, ‘Youngblood’ is as consistent an album as you’ll hear, and fully justifies the band’s three-year absence to put it together.
The recipe of relatable and downbeat lyricism spread neatly over fun, snappy synth-based tracks is a clear success, and one that 5 Seconds Of Summer have done to perfection. If this is not one of the best releases of the year, then it’s certainly one of the biggest surprises.