'5 Seconds of Summer': What the Critics are Saying (Video)
Don't be fooled, 5 Seconds of Summer isn't a boy band. They're just blurring the lines between that genre and pop-punk more than ever before, mixing the hooks and fangirl mania of One Direction and The Wanted with the instrumentation, riffs and mojo reminiscent of early 2000s pop-punk acts like Yellowcard, Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy.
The Aussie quartet released their 12-track debut (previewed by no less than six promotional singles over the last five months) on Capitol, produced mostly by former Goldfinger frontman John Feldmann. In addition, the band has released four bonus tracks available for streaming on Spotify.
"5 Seconds of Summer is a hybrid of the two musical ideas, a pop-punk act where the 'pop' greatly outweighs the 'punk' and the guitar riffs are plentiful, but don't cut hard enough to have parents concerned," said Billboard's Jason Lipshutz in his 81/100 track-by-track review of the album. "The band's aesthetic is actually pretty ingenious, inviting fans of both genres to come together, sing along to the pristine choruses and head-bang ever so slightly."
Each 5SOS member had a hand in crafting 11 of the 12 tracks (excluding "Amnesia," penned by Good Charlotte's Benji and Joel Madden), and they want fans to know, unlike past tour-mates One Direction, they play their own instruments. Differences aside, the YouTube darlings have no problem appealing to Harry Styles' rabid fan base.
Songwriting credits include an extensive list of pop-punk all-stars, including the Madden brothers, Yellowcard's Ryan Key, All Time Low's Alex Gaskarth and Boys Like Girls' Martin Johnson, who all helped the group craft track after track of catchy choruses, quotable lyrics and the occasional, unabashed brand drop (see "She Looks So Perfect" for some shameless American Apparel promotion).
"Clean and compact…5 Seconds of Summer is a delightful debut from a group that cannot be easily pigeonholed, and is worth paying attention to," says Lipshutz.
"If 5 Seconds of Summer learned anything from touring with One Direction (as they did in 2013), it was probably how to style their hair. However, if they learned two things, then the second was clearly how to write a catchy chorus," quipped All Music's Matt Collar in a similarly positive review.
"[They] deliver track after track of gargantuan pop/rock, packed with immediately hummable melodies that anyone over 30 will probably feel slightly guilty for remembering," Collar said.
Giving it a 3.5 of 5, Alternative Press' Evan Lucy also liked the release. "No one will argue 5 Seconds of Summer is high art, but it ultimately works more often than it doesn't. And, perhaps most important of all, it feels authentic…but the fact that these songs are awash in live drums and real instruments proves 5 Seconds of Summer want to rock as much as they want to reach Top 40 crowds," he said.
According to Rolling Stone's Caryn Ganz, "Whatever the decade, teens sure don't tire of cute boys singing about babes and clothes," a tradition, she said, is carried on by "these four Aussies with aw-shucks grins and low-slung guitars" in their smash hit "She Looks So Perfect," the "sublime three-minute wallop of 'hey-ey-ey-ey's, crunchy chords and gym-class angst."
Their music conforms to the slickest brand of emo from the last decade — but with more melodic density and variation," said The New York Daily News' Jim Farber. "The guys sing in voices that mimic the weasely whine so loved by interchangeable emo bands like Jimmy Eat World and Taking Back Sunday. The riffs of 5SOS chug along as reliably, though more appealingly, than either."
"Aimed squarely at the teenage market, its shrill exuberance and lyrical mischief all round as songs leap and sometimes creak under the weight of their double entendres," said The Guardian's Dave Simpson in his mixed review. "Hits-in-the-making such as 'Don't Stop' may soon be impossible to avoid: concerned parents may find themselves popping in earplugs and pondering the eternal question: 'Must we fling this filth at our pop kids?'"
"The tunes on the group's first album are punchy and catchy, as kinetic as a first kiss," said USA Today's Brian Mansfield, summing it all up nicely. "The themes are familiar and, to anyone who came of age during the '70s or later, so are the sounds. But fresh faces and an exuberant delivery make them feel new every time."