Since its start on YouTube back in 2011, 5 Seconds of Summer has been known for its anthemic love songs. As time passed and the band members got older, the group has been able to continue creating music that reflects romance with a newfound maturity best exemplified in the band's new album.
Released on March 27, “CALM” is the band’s fourth studio album. Despite its name, the 12-track album is anything but, with many upbeat tracks and energetic vocals. According to the album’s description on Apple Music, the album gets its name from combining the first initials of each band member — Calum Hood, Ashton Irwin, Luke Hemmings and Michael Clifford.
“CALM” is the group’s second album since its two-year hiatus, and the band yet again proves its ability to leave adolescence behind for what Hemmings referred to as their “coming-of-age album.”
The album opens with “Red Desert,” an homage to the band’s home country. The attention-arresting opener immediately shows off the band’s inspired new identity with a soulful sound that quickly evolves into a drum-centric song with encompassing rousing vocals and smooth harmonies. The album then transitions to a tender sound for “No Shame,” whose lyrics are a great example of the self-reflective depth achieved on “CALM.”
“I only light up as cameras are flashing,” Hemmings sings. “Never enough and no satisfaction/Got no shame/I love the way you're screaming my name.”
The lyrics point out the current societal obsession with internet fame and general popularity. The song is both a reflection on their own fixations with fame as well as a snapshot of how the band members see society.
The group continues to display its improved writing ability on the third track “Old Me.” Co-written by Irwin and Hemmings, the song reflects on owning one’s past faults to move on and grow as a person. “Shout-out to the old me and everything you showed me,” the duo sings. “Glad you didn’t listen when the world was trying to slow me … Had to f*** it up before I really got to know me.” Despite its heavily-produced sound, the lyrics carry the song to be one of the best on the album.
The record then fades into a trio of singles — “Easier,” “Teeth” and “Wildflower.” The last of the three, released early last week, is a warm summery song, drawing clear inspiration from ‘80s synth-pop in its electric flair. The song is a great example of the band’s ability to create mature, adult contemporary music without reverting back to the teen-pop ways of its past.
The rest of the album displays the softer side of the group's composition with somber tunes like “Best Years,” “Lover Of Mine” and “Not In The Same Way.” Along with this, the second half of the album boasts a darker spirit most prominent on songs like “Thin White Lies” and “Lonely Heart.” The two sport sultry vocals in the chorus and bridge heavily build to create higher energy by the end of “Lonely Heart.”
The record closes with “High,” a minimalist ballad serenaded by slow, sweet vocals. The lyrics match the greater theme of the album — letting go and moving on.
“CALM” is a mature progression in the post-hiatus era of 5 Seconds of Summer. The lyrical depth and meaning reached in the band’s writing prove its members’ capability to grow as artists and people while staying true to their pop-rock genre.