‘Near-perfection pop’
Malvika Padin
14:30 26th March 2020

Australian quartet 5 Seconds of Summer’s fourth studio album - and follow-up to 2018’s Youngblood - CALM has been a much-anticipated offering.

Opening with the groovy, anthemic ‘Red Desert’, the album is set up for bigger and better things, before the radio-friendly soundscape of latest single ‘No Shame’ highlights the foursome’s ability to layer explosive instrumentals over meaningful lyrics and raw stories. 

The album’s title is an acronym of the member’s first names; Calum, Ashton, Luke and Michael, and the message of the album seems suitably personal if tracks such as the retrospective ‘Old Me’ are anything to go by. 

The lead single, ‘Easier’ conveys electro-influenced melodic flair, and follow-up single ‘Teeth’ grapples with a grungy, rock-tinged delivery and a catchy chorus, making for undeniable highlights on this 12-track production. Set back-to-back, these tracks cement the quartet’s sonic range before ‘ Wildflower’ comes through at the halfway point, as the most repeat-worthy pop offering on the record. 

From there on, the album shifts from catchy arrangements to fluid instrumental setups. Starting with the balladeering ‘Best Years’ and piano-led ‘Lover Of Mine’, followed by the angst-ridden ‘Thin White Lies’ and slow-burn, vocal-centric ‘Lonely Heart’. 

Split into two distinct, yet cohesive, sections of music that are authentically 5SOS, the album is a look into the journey of four young boys growing up and getting pulled into the addictive power of fame – for example, the self-reflective closing track ‘High’.

As CALM comes to an end and the final notes of the song peter out, we’re left with a sense of fulfilment, peace and unsurprisingly an overwhelming feeling of calmness. It’s not without some kinks though – among the depth of well-made music lie forgettable tracks such as ‘Not In The Same Way’; there’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s nothing particularly impressive either.

Despite that niggling urge to skip the odd mediocre track, the desire to play beauties like ‘High’ on loop wins in the end and CALM stands on a pedestal of near-perfection pop. 

CALM is released on 27 March 2020 via Polydor Records. 

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