For 5 Seconds of Summer, these past few months have been a non-stop blur of success. Staging a whopping comeback with their third studio album Youngblood, the Aussie rockstars quickly became the top act in their home country. Currently the only band ever to have two full-length records entering the Billboard charts at #1, it’s no doubt 5SOS’ newest effort will be just as well-received.
“The making of Youngblood was nothing short of an ultimately transformative experience, for every single member of 5SOS,” wrote the quartet when they released the title track to thank fans for their unwavering support. Having grown out of their pop-punk beginnings, the 5SOS you hear in Youngblood boasts a completely different sound riddled with experimental pop-rock elements and addictive synth beats.
“Youngblood say you want me, say you want me out of your life / And I’m just a dead man walking tonight”
“One of my favourites. Never been more proud of anything,” frontman Luke wrote, and there’s no doubt why. Subdued and vocally-restrained verses slowly build up the momentum, which then bursts into a rhythmic chorus that can only be described with one word – powerful.
2. ‘WANT YOU BACK’
“I remember the roses on your shirt when you told me this would never work / You know even when I say I’ve moved on, yeah I still dream for you”
This head-banging single gave us a taste of the band’s newly-honed songwriting skills. Diverging from their cheeky lyrical delivery in Sounds Good Feels Good, ‘Want You Back’ introduces a more mature and laidback production, complemented with a groovy bass line that keeps us hooked on every verse. According to drummer Ashton, this was the last song on the album to be written – when “[the band] had an entire body of work just sitting there” and were wrecking their brains for the perfect single to present it. Guess the best masterpieces come from serendipities!
3. ‘LIE TO ME’
“It’s 3am and the moonlight’s testing me / If I can make it till dawn then it won’t be hard to see that I ain’t happy”
A soundtrack for the broken-hearted, ‘Lie To Me’ is about figuring out how to move on in the aftermath of a bad relationship which, as Ashton says, “the other person is in it for reasons that you aren’t”. Some fans have pointed out that it seemed to be a sequel to ‘If You Don’t Know’, with its similar lovesick rhetorics and whimsical riffs. But in this one, you get a more matured take on heartbreak with melancholic lyrics that everyone can relate to.
“I love the light in your eyes and the dark in your heart / You love our permanent chase and the bite of our bark”
‘Valentine’ makes use of intense – almost creepy – lyrics as a hyperbolic representation of the obsession that ensues when you fall in love with someone. Sappy lines sung with drunken melodies spur that oh-so-familiar feeling of helpless adoration reminiscent of young love. Fans of the goth and post-punk era will feel right at home with this one.
5. ‘TALK FAST’
“Talk fast, romance / Won’t last, I’m okay with that”
‘Talk Fast’ is arguably the one of the funkiest songs in Youngblood – just try to not groove along to this catchy tune! Just like its spitfire tempo, this upbeat number seems to be reflective of the breakneck speed that the boys’ lives have been moving at lately – what with non-stop touring and back-to-back shows. Lines like “I’ll take what I can get from you” are sung breathlessly, blending the words into one fleeting vocal line that is strangely cathartic.
6. ‘MOVING ALONG’
“Thinking ’bout you lots lately / Have you been eating breakfast alone like me?”
A throwback to the band’s early beginnings, this song makes use of fun beats to deliver heartbreaking lyrics, punctuated with humorous lines like “Is it bad that I’m wishing you’re so broken? That you haven’t found fish in the ocean”. Much like ‘Heartbreak Girl’ and ‘Beside You’, it seems like Youngblood is just as centred around girl troubles – but with less goof and more maturity. The boys have certainly been ‘Moving Along’ (sorry, we had to) from their angsty teenage days.
7. ‘IF WALLS COULD TALK’
“If these walls could talk, I’d hope they wouldn’t say anything / Because they’ve seen way too many things”
An emotional and unapologetically vulnerable track, ‘If Walls Could Talk’ is the epitome of the new 5SOS. Still musing about the same grievances featured in their previous albums, the band has taken that remorse and added a refreshing, spunky twist to it – and we’re not complaining.
8. ‘BETTER MAN’
“Darling all of my wrongs, they lead me right to you / Wrapped in your arms, I swear I’d die for you”
Looking back on their musical evolution, it seems only natural that they have progressed towards dark electro pop in some of their newer tracks, and ‘Better Man’ is one of them. Luke’s acrobatic vocals transition smoothly from suave and lilting in the first few verses, to assertive and smouldering in the choruses. Ashton once said that being in a band means you never really grow up, but the lads have certainly found a way to do so without losing their boyish charm.
“And all the things that we dream about, they don’t mean what they did before / I just wanna get back to us ’cause we used to have more”
Vocally dense and instrumentally heavy, ‘More’ has just the right amount of swagger to please our rock-lovin’ hearts. Michael’s commanding power chords, Calum’s ground-rocking bass line, Ashton’s lively drumming and Luke’s soulful vocals make this track complete.
10. ‘WHY WON’T YOU LOVE ME’
“You imagine when you close your eyes you’re with me on the other side / So why won’t you love me?”
Luke’s trademark ’80s falsetto vocals are peppered throughout the entire album, but his soaring notes in ‘Why Won’t You Love Me’ might be his best yet. This song is proof that 5SOS is one of the few bands that can still pull off a Petrarchan lover track, without coming off as too whiny.
11. ‘WOKE UP IN JAPAN’
“It was more than just a neon weekend / Light slipping through the third floor curtain”
And of course, we have the obligatory “travelling rockstar wakes up in a new place every morning” trope. Luke sings about – you guessed it – waking up in Japan, but “feeling low, feeling lonely”. It paints a vivid picture of a lonely musician partying away his woes, feeling dissociated with everything around him. Despite the glamour of life on the road, it appears even the best rockstars need a place to call home sometimes.
12. ‘EMPTY WALLETS’
“Think the high out with the low / And away and away we go”
If you need a badass new addition to your playlist, you’re gonna love ‘Empty Wallets’. An evolution of ‘Waste The Night’, it explores the familiar themes of partying all night and not holding back on a good time – reminiscent of the band’s adolescent “long hair, don’t care” mentality. Roll those car windows down and turn up the volume on this tune on your next road trip!
13. ‘GHOST OF YOU’
“So I drown it out like I always do, dancing through our house with the ghost of you / And I’ll chase it down with a shot of truth, that my feet don’t dance like they did with you”
You might’ve already guessed from its title, but this song will break your heart in many ways. Opening with a sombre guitar riff, its instrumental also incorporates delicate piano notes that make lyrics like “too young, too dumb to know things like love” all the more heart-wrenching. After the all-out pop assault of Youngblood, ‘Ghost Of You’ leaves you with a hauntingly beautiful aftertaste.
14. ‘MONSTER AMONG MEN’
“Demons hide behind my back / And I can see them, one, two, three, four”
Lead guitarist Michael may not have many lines in Youngblood, but his vocals in ‘Monster Among Men’ more than makes up for it. A reappearance of the demons from his solo in ‘Jet Black Heart’, it features stripped verses bursting into a pounding chorus, mimicking the polar mood swings that caused him to hurt a loved one over and over again. And if you think Michael’s shining moment only lasts as long as the first verse, you’ll be blown away by his epic guitar solo later on!
15. ‘MEET YOU THERE’
“So you go your way and I’ll go mine / And if we’re meant to, I’ll meet you there”
If you’ve ever been in a long-distance relationship, ‘Meet You There’ is the perfect anthem for you. Something along the lines of ‘Close As Strangers’, this lively ditty speaks about two lovers leaving their fate up to the stars. The most iconic part of this track however, is when the beat drops and a dubstep-like mix comes on (just listen to it, and you’ll know what we’re on about).
“Burned too bright, now the fire’s gone / Watch it all fall down: Babylon”
The final song in Youngblood (not counting hidden bonus tracks) is testament to how far 5SOS can push their songwriting and composing prowess. Alluding to the ancient Mesopotamian city, ‘Babylon’ depicts the story of a thriving civilisation that was destroyed at the hands of the Assyrian Empire. It draws parallels of this defeat to a deteriorating relationship, telling you to face the painful truth: “We said we’d both love harder than we knew we could go, but still the hardest part is knowing when to let go”. 5SOS couldn’t have picked a more fitting track to bring the album to an anthemic close.