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Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, Jul 16th, 2014

5 Seconds of Summer: 5 Seconds of Summer

5 seconds5 Second of Summer
5 Seconds of Summer
(Capitol Records)

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5 Seconds of Summer is objectively not a boy band. They don’t dance, they all play their own instruments, they (co)write their own songs, and there’s only one lead singer. But the four-piece Australian sensation gets the double-b label slapped on them constantly. Likely, this can be blamed partially on their good looks, young female fan base, and their touring with boy band iconoclasts (?) One Direction—not to mention their particularly juvenile lyrics. Like McFly or the Jonas Brothers before them, 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS for those in-the-know) has been unjustly identified as a boy band and that’s unlikely to go away anytime soon.

More accurately, 5 Seconds of Summer’s self-titled debut is a pop-punk record and sounds straight out of 2003. Although maybe that’s not entirely fair. It’s too omnivorous an album to come from any social climate but our own. They rip off Taking Back Sunday one moment and quote Sum 41 another. They mix the bubble-gummiest of bubble-gum hooks with Fall Out Boy bombast. They ape “Hey There Delilah” in a verse and then bring in a Jonas Brothers ballad for the chorus. And even if all these sonic cues may come from roughly the same time period, only hindsight can see how well they work together.

The songs themselves are a mixed bag. Cuts like opening track and lead single “She Looks So Perfect” are pure slices of pop perfection. But many tracks, such as the dull “Amnesia” or the bizarre “English Love Affair” fail in almost every way. The majority of the album, though, is less extreme. Middle-of-the-road pop songs that are dressed up in mostly exciting arrangements with some impressive drumming and guitar work but whose melodies are largely forgettable and whose lyrics are often bad (see the truant/fluent rhyme on “Good Girls”).

But the album does what I suppose it’s trying to do. Real boy band or not, they’re catering to a particular market, and it’s a market that’s craving something different than Top 40 pop. That’s why One Direction has been so successful with their move towards rock and folk music and boy bands like The Wanted and Big Time Rush have fallen off the radar. And it’s why 5 Seconds of Summer is getting away with making music that rips off decade-old bands. Plus, they are really cute.

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5 Seconds of Summer: 5 Seconds of Summer