5 Seconds Of Summer - Youngblood
Is it time for a "coming out of age" album? I had the chance to state before that 5 Seconds Of Summer has never been a pop-punk or any another rock genre related band. These Aussies have always been a pure pop but a garbage one that you can dispose easily of after use. They built on their audience with the great assistance of the producer John Feldmann (also the singer of Goldfinger) who molded them to the teen poster boys of the crappy pop punk. But it wasn't meant to last for the long haul and finally, we see and hear the 5SOS the way the band is meant to be. It's just that their full pop transformation is merely any good.
"Youngblood" is nothing but a microwave dinner. My friends and the people who follow this blog in general probably know I digest very well smart pop music. But this isn't the case here mostly because nothing makes a lasting impression. This is an album with no sound flaws because it has been so overproduced that it looks like a shiny red apple with a plastic taste.
Just like in their "punk phase" when the boys needed a whole bunch of producers and songwriters from Goldfinger, Good Charlotte, and All Time Low to create a whole album, now they teamed up with some of hottest names in the Billboard's Top 40. We are talking about a dozen people who made hits for Justin Bieber, Kelly Clarkson, Avicii, Post Malone, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and... well, you get the picture.
|5 Seconds Of Fingerbang|
Song lengths are also something that has been taken special care of. Most people don't know the fact that radios prefer playing tracks ending just under the 3 minutes and 30 seconds mark. And this is what the songwriters and the producers of "Youngblood" deliver - 16 songs between 2:30 and 3:30. This old trick will probably help the band put into rotation any track they want. Not that the radio stations wouldn't play their songs but at least 5SOS won't have to edit them.
The majority of "Youngblood" could be mistaken for Ed Sheeran songs without the guilty pleasure voice of the British singer. Most of that majority is also heavily influenced by chart toppers like The Chainsmokers and Maroon 5 so it feels like the members ditched their guitars and drums to make way for big arena EDM and in a way, you can't blame them - this provides instant success every time. Lyrically things don't get any better either - "Youngblood" relies on the cheesy rubbishness of First world white boys problems like getting back with your ex or like getting back with your ex because you're a masochist.
This pop-punk to dance pop transition is much like the story of Fall Out Boy. There are a few songs on this album that are pretty much "Fall Out Boy in a nutshell" - for example, "Moving Along" is a combination of palm-muted guitar chords, faux soulful singing and over the top repetitive drum pattern. Just for the record, this isn't a compliment at all. Also, there is the inevitable pathetic try to recreate a song by The Police - "Talk Fast", something that should have ended a long time ago with Bruno Mars. Of all those 16 songs two or three are not that bad. "If Walls Could Talk" has anthemic potential and the piano intro of "Empty Wallets" has the Backstreet Boys gimmick that will grab you tight as the song continues.
Everything can be a hit here but at the same time, it mostly forgettable stuff. This band will go on for probably another album cycle (if not less) and then the members will take the advice of their personal PRs, managers, lawyers, and hairstylists to start solo careers and then we will see the end of 5SOS. Because that's how recycling works - you separate glass, plastic, cardboard and food thrash when you take the garbage out.
Listen if you like:
Contemporary overproduced garbage pop without any time lasting values
Boy bands in general