Following success on their third album “Youngblood,” 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) is back with a fourth album that is anything but calm. The album’s title is a combination of the first letter of each band member’s first name: Calum Hood, Ashton Irwin, Luke Hemmings and Michael Clifford. For their fandom, this is a name they’ve been using for the band since they first started making music.
The band reflects on themes of identity and love throughout the album. The first track, “Red Desert,” opens with the band harmonizing. I was surprised to hear this because they rarely harmonize together in their songs. The first verse consists of lead singer Hemmings singing along a fast-paced bass line by bassist Hood. When the chorus kicks in, all the harmonies start again with an explosion on the drums by drummer Irwin and electric guitar melodies by lead guitarist Clifford.
The red desert the band sings about can be seen in their music video for the third track, “Old Me.” For fans of the band, this video will remind you of the early days of 5SOS when they began their musical journey by posting covers on YouTube. The video shows the band traveling on a train in a desert when their attention shifts to four boys getting on the train. These boys are a representation of 5SOS when they started the band. As the video continues, old clips of the covers 5SOS created in their home of Sydney, Australia, are shown. These clips are played alongside the boys who just formed their band.
Fans of Hood will be pleased to hear track six, “Wildflower.” This track also includes the band harmonizing, but Hood takes control of the lead vocals. Compared to when he took over on “Babylon” from the previous album, this track is more cheerful. In the chorus, Hood sings about the joys he feels in love.
"You know you are my favorite fantasy / A fatal love song / Waterfall is overflowin’ / You’re the only one who makes me."
5SOS also explores the idea of love on “Lover of Mine.” The title of this song made me expect an upbeat and cheerful track, but I got the opposite. The song begins with a slow piano melody. Then, Hemmings sings along a soft guitar harmony by Clifford. When Hemmings finishes singing the chorus, Irwin comes in with a powerful beat that causes a dramatic change in the song. The contrast between the happy lyrics of the song and the instrumentals are what makes this track so unique.
5SOS concludes the album with “High.” In an interview with Apple Music, Hemmings said this track is the most selfish song on the album. Hemmings sings about how even though he messed up in a previous relationship, he has worked to change and become a more mature person.
"Today, I called to tell you that I’m changing / But I don’t think you have enough respect to see me try / I’ve been waking up in different spaces / And I think that my heart is built to last more than a night."
I’ve only been a fan of 5SOS since 2016, but I’ve enjoyed seeing their growth in the music they release. After beginning their career as a pop-punk band, their music has developed into a mature sound that includes diverse elements in each track. “Youngblood” is the band’s most personal album, but “CALM” shows how strong the band’s bond has become over the years.
Katelyn Rodriguez, culture reporter
On Friday, 5SOS released their highly anticipated fourth album "CALM." This album seemingly came out at just the right moment, seeing that many, including the band and myself, are currently self-isolating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to releasing the album, 5SOS dropped five singles from it, which included “No Shame,” “Old Me,” “Easier,” “Teeth” and “Wildflower.”
“Easier” and “Teeth” are the two songs that supply a darker tone and feature heavy bass and guitar riffs by Hood and Clifford, as well as drum beats by Irwin. The latter of the two begins with a “Stranger Things”-sounding bass riff, which is continued throughout the song. The chorus of “Teeth” is hard rock driven thanks to Hood’s bass playing and the use of the kick drum instead of the usual snare. “Easier” credits Charlie Puth as a writer and it’s evident through the way Hemmings channels Puth’s signature falsettos and runs throughout the track.
The album opens with “Red Desert,” an angelically harmonized ode to their Australian roots. In an interview with Apple Music, Hemmings said they got the idea to include the harmony in “Red Desert” after they covered “Killer Queen” by Queen during the release of the film “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 2018.
The three tracks on the album that surprised me were “Best Years,” “Lonely Heart” and “High.”
“Best Years” makes its appearance near the end of the album, which was something I wasn’t expecting. Sure, 5SOS has had ballads on their prior three albums, but “Best Years” marks a turning point. Their last album “Youngblood” featured “Ghost of You,” which focuses on the heartbreak one feels when they realize their significant other isn’t coming back. However, “Best Years” is a promise to a significant other that, despite the hardship that past relationships have caused, they’ll give their significant other the best years of their life.
"But I'll build a house out of the mess and all the broken pieces / I'll make up for all of your tears / I'll give you the best years / Past love, burned out like a cigarette / I promise, darling, you won't regret / The best years."
Hemmings described the song as a beautiful love note and one can infer he wrote it for his girlfriend Sierra Deaton.
“Lonely Heart” begins with an acoustic guitar backing before launching into a heavier, drum-driven sound during the chorus. The song references similarities between two individuals in a relationship while also using the metaphor of dancing throughout the track. It also chronicles the fear of the other individual leaving them and details how loneliness isn’t foreign to them.
“High” is the last song on the album and was the best way to end “CALM.” The ballad is stripped down to Hemming’s vocals and reminisces about a past love while hoping they think of the protagonist highly when they’re seeing another person. It’s a very focused song that also details the changes the protagonist has made since being with the individual being referenced, while also focusing on how they were viewed by their past love.
“I know I'll never meet your expectations / But the picture that you paint of me looks better in your mind / Now every step I take with hesitation / And I'll always miss the memories of the mornings we were high / I need to stop letting me down.”
I’ve been a 5SOS fan since late 2013 and it’s been an honor to watch them go from touring with One Direction and performing in small venues to selling out larger venues as headliners. Like many other members of the 5SOS family, I have grown up with the band, and their sound has evolved tremendously since their self-titled debut album. Upon first listening to “CALM,” I laughed, danced and shed a few tears. It reminded me how much 5SOS means to me and that, even during our darkest moments, some sliver of light always manages to shine through when we least expect it.