A Look At 5SOS’ New Album CALM Track By Track

Get those headphones ready or just jam at full volume on your record player at home because this project shows you a more personal side of 5SOS as the band takes the first letter from each of their first names; Calum, Ashton, Luke, and Michael to spell out the title of their latest album: C A L M

We’re living in some uncertain times right now, but living amidst the unknown sometimes sparks an opportunity to bring more people together — virtually. It was announced on March 25 that 5SOS would have a listening party for their new album over Instagram Live. They took to Instagram with a post saying, “we invite everyone to join us as we listen to our new album in its entirety. We want the entire fan base to feel fully connected as if we were all in the same room listening together.” During the livestream, they each took turns tuning in from their couch or room in their respective homes to discuss the songs.

With the date of the much anticipated fourth studio album by 5 Seconds of Summer finally upon us, CALM marks the band’s first album released with Interscope Records. They had previously been under Capitol Records who had released their first three albums, 5 Seconds of Summer, Sounds Good Feels Good, and Youngblood.

Their previous album, Youngblood showed a shift in the band’s sound as they moved from pop-punk to a more pop driven sound. From the first few singles that were released earlier this year, they have proven that CALM will once again continue on with catchy pop hooks. But don’t be fooled, this isn’t just some lackluster ear candy. With this new sound and new era of 5SOS music, it is surely their most meaningful, both lyrically and artistically.

Red Desert

“Red Desert” dives deeper into group harmonies. They first sang the song live at the G’Day USA event for the Australian bushfires. Luke explained via Apple Music that “we did this cover of ‘Killer Queen’ by Queen before we wrote this song. We’d sing a harmony all together and do it eight times, then the next harmony all together in the booth eight times, building these huge gang vocals like they would. I think that opened our eyes to what we could do vocally as a group. We wanted to show that we all sing, but we can do it in a way that’s different than when we were younger.” The live vocals are really what makes this song stand out. Ashton talked about the song on Ash London Live, saying they each recorded their vocals together in the studio without tuning, adding each layer of the song, vocals on vocals. And to top it all off, 5SOS were the only ones who wrote the song. They can write and sing and I think bands who can do that are so creative and have longevity in their careers.

No Shame

This first single of 2020 lets the listener in to an ever so timely picture of how society has an infatuation with the internet and wanting to be seen in a certain light. I think the chorus really hits home with that message as they sing, “I only light up when cameras are flashin’ / Never enough and no satisfaction / Got no shame / I love the way you’re screaming my name / Diggin’ my grave to get a reaction / Changin’ my face and callin’ it fashion / Got no shame / I love the way you’re screaming my name.” In an interview with Apple Music, Luke went on to say, “I think we made it clear that although it is kind of a snapshot of how we see society and how a lot of people can see it, that we’re all a part of it and we’re not pointing a finger at people. Everything is online.”

Old Me

Recounting the road that they took to get to where they are today, “Old Me” highlights how fame can bring on a fast and unpredictable lifestyle that the younger versions of themselves weren’t exactly ready for. Lead singer, Luke Hemmings sings, “Look into the mirror take the punches that I throw / I’m constantly reminded of all the compromises / By the people from my past who have a hard time letting go / And they wondered how long I could keep it up / While I wondered if I’d ever, if I’d ever get enough.” I like how this song acknowledges the mistakes that you make in your past, and in some way, without those mistakes and changes in your life, you would’ve never found a reason to get stronger and feel fully ready to start something new.

Easier

Both Charlie Puth and Ryan Tedder had a hand in writing the first single from the album. If you know me, you know that anything written or produced by Ryan Tedder is on my current playlist so I was happy to hear that he would be a part of 5SOS’ most recent album. “Easier” talks about a relationship that brings with it the question, is it easier to stay in the relationship or easier to end it. I remember hearing this song when it first came out. I like how this song once again reminds us of the amazing vocal range that Luke Hemmings has as he switches from head voice to chest voice in the choruses so effortlessly. He delivers a Charlie Puth-esque vocal while still making it his own. (Bonus: They have a remix version featuring Charlie!) This song is a mix of electronic music and a driving bass line. It was my first chance to listen to how the rest of the album would sound and I was ready for it after listening to this track!

Teeth

This song doesn’t disappoint. Pulling from a more industrial sound, “Teeth” invites the listener into “the struggle to push through [jealousy and trust issues], because you know there’s something beautiful on the other side,” says Luke (interscope.com). Featuring guitarist, Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave), this song builds off “that same driving energy we’d first tried to find in Youngblood,” says Ashton Irwin. For me as a listener, this was the song that really started to show how the band was branching out and fully committing to their new sound. It was the second single released and I think it was a good follow-up to “Easier.”

Wildflower

Right from the start, from the a cappella harmonies in the opening to the bass synth and drums in the chorus, this is the perfect song to blast through the car with the windows down on a sun drenched day. In a letter out to the fans, they said, “wildflower is out now and, man…all we can say is this song is a Frankenstein of everything we love about music, we really hope you dig this one.” Calum Hood takes the lead on vocals in this single released two days before the album dropped. In the video below, you’ll get to hear a more in depth view of the song as Calum guides you through different sections of the song.

Best Years

This slower paced ode to love and a relationship could be used as a first dance at a wedding and during the livestream, Michael Clifford said he would definitely consider using it in his! After having to cancel many events, Luke sang the acoustic version of “Best Years” from quarantine, showing us all that we can still make the best out of some tough situations. He said via Apple Music, “the first demo was just one guitar and my vocal. Me and Ryan [Tedder] wrote a bulk with the vocals on our own, and then we had The Edge from U2 play the guitar on the bridge. That was awesome. The song is a beautiful love note —something I felt I needed to get off my chest. That’s the best way songwriting can be: cathartic.”

Not In the Same Way

Describing the first few days of a relationship, this song is about “a chaotic love story…and trying to figure out your counterpart,” said Luke. “This song came together in 30 minutes, except for the bridge. It was one of the most exciting in the room to write; it was almost like we couldn’t keep up with how quickly it was going,” he explained to Apple Music.

Lover of Mine

Luke said that he “was trying to go for a Jeff Buckley vibe on this. I actually wrote this with my girlfriend [Sierra Deaton] and then I took it into the studio. We finished it there with everyone else.” It tells a story of how someone feels as though they got everything else in their life wrong, except their significant other.

Thin White Lies

In this track, “we were going for a Cure thing on the guitar in the verses,” Luke explained. When he was interviewed about the song by Apple Music, he said, “I love the groove in the chorus…my favorite lyric in [the song] is ‘I don’t think I like me anymore.’ It’s so honest, when you get to a point that you feel like a stranger to yourself — I like how this song captures that moment.”

Lonely Heart

I really liked the New Wave vibes their last album had and this song builds off of that. 80s music finds its way into a lot of my playlists and when new music finds inspiration from that type of music from the past, that makes me excited to listen. Those sad, dark lyrics with an upbeat music twist lend themselves to “Lonely Heart.” Apple Music provided a commentary with Luke for this song. He said, “the song’s really beautiful. I like the dancing metaphor in some of the verses. It kind of sounds like Depeche Mode in the chorus, which I like. It’s all pretty New Wave.”

High

This is one of the most personal songs on the album. Luke reiterates that in an interview with Apple Music saying, “songwriting in itself is very selfish, and this song in particular, the lyric ‘I hope you think of me high / I hope you think of me highly’ is very clever and very self-involved. I love the honesty. That’s why I wanted to close the album with it. I had these chords in my head; I really wanted a Beatles-esque song with quirky chords. I like how narcissistic it is, but in such a sweet and unassuming way.”

If you want to check out what you’ve read about in this post, you can listen to the album on Spotify by clicking here!

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