5SOS5 Album Review

Capturing etherealness in a record.

By Andrea Morales

In the first weeks of the original COVID-19 lockdown, 5 Seconds of Summer released their fourth critically acclaimed album, CALM. Before the pandemic hit, they had plans for their usual promotion of the album and the inevitable tour. They had done this loop for their first three albums, so why would this record be any different? To outside audiences, it seems like a rinse, wash, repeat cycle. Of course, when the pandemic hit, this all went down the drain. For the first time in their career, they were forced to sit in stillness. Out of the calmness from the pressures of the industry cycle (no pun intended) came their fifth studio album, 5SOS5.

Now, I was a bit skeptical going into this album, as I am a firm believer that CALM was extremely overshadowed by the chaos of COVID, and was therefore underappreciated. This idea was cemented even more when I attended their Take My Hand Tour over the summer, and felt like half of their show was monopolized by songs off 5SOS5 when the album wasn’t even out yet; 25% were their old hits, and the other 25% were songs off of CALM. As a fervent supporter of their fourth album, a part of me couldn’t help but feel disappointed that CALM would never get its lone time in the sun. I felt like it was being pushed off to the side for songs like “Complete Mess”, “Take My Hand”, and “Me, Myself, and I” — songs that weren’t even their best work in my opinion. Oh, how wrong I was.

5SOS5 came out on September 23, and I’ll be honest: I didn’t listen to it on the first day. From the previous songs mentioned, I felt like they all sounded the same — a generalization that is always dangerous to make. It wasn’t until I was on a road trip with my friends that I remembered 5SOS had even dropped a new album. With a shrug and a reluctant attitude, I reached for my phone to play the lengthy deluxe album that boasted 19 songs.

The album opens with the aforementioned “Complete Mess” , setting the tone for the rest of the work sonically. The sound feels ethereal, and the chorus is the perfect excuse to shout the lyrics, “Oh, you make me complete / You make me complete / You make me a complete mess.” Intrigued but still not fully convinced, I keep listening. The second song “Easy for You to Say” had me completely hooked. Maybe it was the backdrop of Rhode Island’s seemingly never-ending highway or the members’ ways of expressing heartbreak through heavenly vocals, but I knew this album would take its permanent place in my headphones.

The theme the album follows is of looking back on past relationships and recognizing them for what they were. Some were toxic for you like in “Bad Omens”; some were relationships that you messed up as shown in “Moodswings”; maybe there were even the ones that you don't want to let go of, for better or worse, like in “Older” or “You Don’t Go To Parties”. It reflects on the relationship within the band itself, with the track aptly titled “Best Friends”. The point is, whether you’ve ever been in a tumultuous, unfulfilling, passionate, or exciting relationship, there is a song for you to relate to.

All of these songs are set with the same backdrop of music that is larger than life. You’re no longer on Earth when you’re listening to the album, but somewhere different. Somewhere more at peace. This is demonstrated in the album’s artwork, where figures of the members are outlined and set against a horizon. It’s quite fitting, as this album lifts you up and makes you never want to come back down.