Release Date: Oct 23, 2015
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Teen Pop, Punk-Pop
'Sounds Good Feels Good'. Reviewed. 5 Seconds Of Summer's new album 'Sounds Good Feels Good' is out now, and you can read exactly what we made of it below. A little over a year ago, 5 Seconds Of Summer barged their way into everyone’s consciousness in a flurry of power chords, soaring hooks and American Apparel underwear.
The argument that 5 Seconds of Summer have against being called a boy band — which, despite being an exceedingly proud legacy, is historically a term no successful group of young male musicians have ever wanted ascribed to them — is, of course, that they’re an actual boy band, playing their own instruments and (mostly) writing their own songs. This fact doesn’t necessarily make a ton of difference to the group’s nomenclature, since the definition of “boy band” is a slippery one that has also been at times used to describe plenty of groups (Hanson, the Jonas Brothers, even the Beatles sometimes) who fit a similar profile. But 5SOS’ brand of guitar-heavy effervescence also connects the quartet to the musical lineage of post-Green Day pop-punk.
With a huge, mainly female teenage fanbase, swollen by tour supports of One Direction, Australia’s 5 Seconds of Summer are often referred to as a boyband. It’s a label they’re keen to shed – much of their second studio album shuns the Busted-esque, cheeky pop moments of their debut in favour of a slightly more mature sound. So Jet Black Heart is a brilliantly OTT emo ballad, while All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth helps craft the sublime Catch Fire (which, ironically, sounds a lot like One Direction).
The biggest new rock act in the world doesn't play indie or metal, and it doesn't have anything to do with Jack White or the Black Keys (at least not yet). Actually, it's a boy band. Australian quartet 5 Seconds of Summer blew up last year with "She Looks So Perfect," which features the indelible chorus "She looks so perfect standing there/In my American Apparel underwear." 5SOS got their start opening for One Direction, whom they rival in catchiness and cuteness, but their music is powered by a completely different strain of hormonal napalm.
There’s no shortage of full-throttle enthusiasm on 5SOS’s latest album – all walloping drums and boisterous pop-punk – and yet the noise of the machine can still be heard. After two albums in as many years, and a quick world tour in between, the alt-pop band (who share management with One Direction) sound programmed to ooze adolescence until the last drop of Lynx Africa runs dry. There are signs of maturity, however, inspired by the pristine punk of Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte (Joel and Benji Madden certainly make their co-writing presence known), while Jet Black Heart and Waste the Night (which features a spindly riff that edges close to the Cure’s Friday I’m in Love) are masterfully moody.
That said, one wonders how 5SOS can get away with blatantly lifting the melody of Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf," as they do on "Hey Everybody!" The answer is by freely copping to the lift and crediting Duran Duran. In the end, though, perhaps we shouldn't be too critical of the band's unabashed cut-and-paste sound, especially if the songs are as a catchy as they are here. As Five Sauce sing on "Hey Everybody!" "We can all get some, yeah, we can all get paid." .
5 Seconds of Summer – 5SOS for short – landed a record deal in 2012 after racking up millions of YouTube views with covers of pop hits by Ed Sheeran, Chris Brown and Jason Derulo. Two years later, having expanded their fanbase by touring extensively with One Direction, the Sydney four-piece topped the US albums chart with their self-titled debut (Lana Del Rey’s ‘Ultraviolence’ kept it from top spot here). Its biggest hit ‘She Looks So Perfect’ featured a lyrical hook that almost felt focus-grouped to knowing teen-pop perfection: “You look so perfect standing there / In my American Apparel underwear”.
Pop-punk is a slippery categorization. There’s no real consensus on which bands qualify as pop-punk and which ones don’t, or exactly what separates the genre from straightforward punk or straight-up pop. This imprecision is often maddening to purists, especially when a line-blurring band such as 5 Seconds Of Summer—which has opened for pop superstars One Direction but whose members are massive fans of All Time Low and Blink-182—comes around.