5 Seconds of Summer – Calm
When a band has been marketed towards exuberant teen audiences as 5 Seconds of Summer has, it always raises an eyebrow when they name-check different influences for each album. It was the Beatles and Queen for their third release and, on this one, Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails were referenced as inspiration.
Opener Red Desert initially casts those claims into doubt with serene, multi-layered gospel cries of “Red, red desert, heal our blues”, until a pulsating beat comes in and then morphs into a choppier electronic drum rhythm akin to Bastille’s Pompeii.
Follow-up track No Shame, though, uses electronic influences to chart-friendly effect, and it’s this modern electro-pop sound that permeates the record and leaves it feeling like an artificial attempt to look musically diverse rather than artful experimentation.
Their industry influences fuel a few tracks more effectively. Teeth has a thumping drumbeat which gives the track an infectious pop catchiness. In tandem with Hemmings’s falsetto, it befits a band genuinely trying to broaden their sonic landscape, suggesting a similarity to Fall Out Boy that should have been explored further. The gospel-influenced vocal production is beautifully fused with a snappy beat on Lonely Heart, too, deceiving listeners at the start with a mournful acoustic guitar introduction.
For the majority of the album, though, the over-earnest delivery and auto-tune veneer of Hemmings’s vocals remind you that this is, to all intents and purposes, a slick pop outfit who happen to wield rock-associated musical instruments. The tracks Easier and Old Me are particularly guilty of this queasy production gimmick.
Unfortunately, Calm‘s production makes most tracks unmemorable and reminds you that the claims of pre-album interviews should always be taken with a pinch of salt. In this case, a very large pinch. Maybe even a cellar full.
Calm is released on 27th March 2020. For further information or to order the album visit 5 Seconds of Summer’s website here.
Watch the video for Wildflower here: