Release Date: Jul 22, 2014
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Teen Pop, Punk-Pop
If one could draw a Venn diagram with Southern California punk-pop giants Green Day on the left and British boy band sensations One Direction on the right, the circles would most likely intersect to create Australia's 5 Seconds of Summer. A four-member ensemble of youthful, guitar-wielding, Christian College grads from Sydney, 5 Seconds of Summer make an utterly populist brand of power pop that has way more to do with the member's spikey-cute hairdos, skintight jeans, and twenty-something-year-old libidos than it does any kind of actual punk-inspired mischief. Which isn’t' to say there aren’t plenty of songs to enjoy on the band's eponymous 2014 full-length debut.
Today’s top boy band doesn’t have much of a coattail. When One Direction beguiled the world’s tweens back in 2011, observers predicted a wave of twinkly-eyed copycats swept to stardom in their wake. It never happened. Fresh teen-bait like The Wanted, Emblem3, AJR and Big Time Rush may have received media attention and some sales.
It's been 15 years since LFO sang "I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch" on a smash single called "Summer Girls." Michael Cliord, Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood and Ashton Irwin were toddlers back then, but whatever the decade, teens sure don't tire of cute boys singing about babes and clothes. These four Aussies with aw-shucks grins and low-slung guitars named themselves after the correct season (summer, duh) and name-checked the right store (American Apparel) for their international hit "She Looks So Perfect" – a sublime three-minute wallop of "hey-ey-ey-ey"s, crunchy chords and gym-class angst. Though they wield guitars and punk-y attitude, 5SOS actually have a lot more One Direction than Green Day in their DNA.
If One Direction's recent "pot" controversy has sent any fans scurrying for the hills, along come chart-ready Australian pop-punk boy band 5 Seconds of Summer. A collective of (gulp) four YouTube stars, their chugging guitars, "hey hey heys" and stupidly catchy choruses recall Weezer and early Busted. Aimed squarely at the teenage market, it's shrill exuberance and lyrical mischief all round as songs leap and sometimes creak under the weight of their double entendres.
Australian four-piece 5 Seconds of Summer sit squarely at the intersection of radio-friendly but mildly rebellious punk-lite and clean-cut boy band fare. It's a position that has served them well: earlier in the year, their single She Looks So Perfect topped charts around the globe. There's nothing desperately original about the 12 songs on their debut album – think Busted and McFly and, on Long Way Home, Wheatus's Teenage Dirtbag with the rough edges smoothed off.
Depending on your opinion of them and their music, you might dub 5 Seconds Of Summer a boy band, pop-punk or something in the middle—but no matter where you fall in the are-they-or-aren’t-they debate, one thing you can’t accuse the teenage Australian quartet of is being disinterested in their future. A quick glance at their self-titled debut full-length (out now in the U.K. and Australia, and out July 22 in America) reveals the band members had a hand in writing 11 of the 12 tracks.
The members of One Direction have done important work in relaxing what’s expected of a boy band. They don’t dance. They often dress like hobos. And their music generally relies less on syrupy R&B grooves than on rowdy pop-rock guitars. Onstage last August at Staples Center, where the British ….
Going back at least to “I Think We’re Alone Now,” pop music has always had room for teen acts that celebrate youth and insist that no one has ever felt what they’re feeling. But there’s something chillingly calculating about 5 Seconds of Summer’s debut, from the branded underwear shoutout in “She Looks So Perfect” to “End Up Here” featuring a drop-out in which a stadium full of teenagers is meant to clap to keep the beat going. (Lest you doubt the purity of its intentions, note that the Australian group has replaced “English Love Affair,” from the overseas version of its album, with a different song called “Mrs All American.