The global eruption of Australian-bred pop-rock outfit 5 Seconds of Summer has been a long time coming. Splinters was first introduced to the compelling four-piece at the beginning of 2013 as they supported boyband One Direction during their UK tour. What was most interesting about this gig was that the Aussie quartet proved to deliver so much quality entertainment that they virtually eclipsed One Direction’s own show with their bravado, talent and charm.
The pairing of 5SOS and 1D together on a tour makes a lot of sense, particularly as 5SOS were virtually unknowns at the time, but try not to confuse our homegrown lads as some kind of boyband; Luke, Ashton, Michael and Calum write almost all of their own songs and – queue the credibility klaxon – play their own instruments. 5 Seconds of Summer are more McFly, Busted or Paramore than they are One Direction or Backstreet Boys, with a harder edge that sits on several genre borderlines: pop, rock, punk and ska. Their influences are more Green Day or Blink-182 than they are outright, boyband pop, with a predominantly teenage female fan base at the core.
With the arrival of their long-awaited debut album the Aussie lads are set for complete world domination, already selling out arenas the world over and topping the ARIA Albums Chart here in their home country. The self-titled affair has gone Number 1 in nine different countries and Top 10 in an additional 11, including a Number 2 debut in the often difficult to crack United Kingdom. But is the album any good? Well, it’s certainly a Big Yes from Splinters.
‘She Looks So Perfect’, the lead single to be lifted off the album, is a pitch-perfect pop/rock song. In One Direction’s quest for ‘credibility’ with their last, Ed Sheeran-esque album, they managed to lose what made them so likeable. Thankfully, 5 Seconds of Summer have held on to their guitars and drum kits whilst still being able to make undeniable quality pop music. ‘She Looks So Perfect’ manages to outdo all of One Direction’s previous efforts without really trying. Bravo.
It’s not as automatic an attraction with follow-up single ‘Don’t Stop’, though this seems to be about as middle of the road as 5 Seconds get. It certainly wouldn’t be our choice for second single, but the video is nothing short of a pop music masterpiece.
The hilarious and somewhat statutory-rapey ‘18’ sees our lads chase after a girl who’s “a little bit older”, so much so they’ve gone out and bought themselves a fake I.D. to meet up with her. “She told me to meet her there, I can’t afford a busfare/She’s got a naughty tattoo in a place that I want to get to, but my mum still drives me to school.”
The equally as riotous ‘Good Girls’ follows a similar pattern, where the band insist that “good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught”. Ridiculous, Over The Top, and Amazing. Of the truly high-octane moments, ‘End Up Here’ is by far the best of the lot, with a soaring, stadium-ready chorus that shows band members Ashton Irwin and Michael Clifford off as brilliant songwriters.
The high energy pop/rock numbers are stellar, but it’s the ballads on this debut that stand tall above the rest. The best cuts here are heartbreaking third (and rightful!) single ‘Amnesia’ and the truly tender ‘Beside You’. The former is actually the last track on the standard edition of the album and plays like an emotional, brick-loaded smack in the face after what is, essentially, a rocky-pop record. Luke Hemmings delivers his lines with so much heart and passion you’d think he wrote the song, when in fact it was Good Charlotte’s Madden brothers who co-wrote the affair. On the subject of songwriting, the latter showcases Hemmings’ penmanship. Penmanship duties which, on this particular number, he shared with Australia’s very own Christian Lo Russo from the ace Amy Meredith.
All in all, this debut effort from 5 Seconds of Summer plays like a very likeable, smartly produced and wickedly written rock-meets-pop record. Sure, the lyrical content is mostly directed at their core fan base – teenage girls – but there is something legitimately here for almost everybody. Songs of love, loss, heartbreak and teenage angst – whatever your age, it’s all something you can easily relate to.
Give these talented, top-notch blokes a go before you throw them into a boyband stereotype. Oh, and it just so happens to be a wild added bonus that they are not at all ugly to look at.
Final Grade: 8.5/10
Written by Adem Ali. For more music news and reviews follow @AdemWithAnE on Twitter!