5 Seconds of Summer Want You Back: Youngblood, Ranked

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5 Seconds of Summer Want You Back: Youngblood, Ranked

Nicole Shaker, Staff Writer

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After five months of relentless promo and the release of two singles, Aussie pop-rock band 5 Seconds of Summer (or 5SOS to their fans), has come out with their third album a week before the originally expected release date, and three years after their last album. This third record, Youngblood, is a triumph for them, as it completely reinvents the band from juvenile punk teenagers to stylish alt-rockers.

Youngblood encompasses many genres, including rock, alternative, new wave, and pop. The band—which is comprised of Luke Hemmings (lead vocals, guitar), Michael Clifford (lead guitar, vocals), Calum Hood (bass, vocals) and Ashton Irwin (drums, vocals)—has stated on multiple occasions that this is the best album they have ever made. Their first two albums allowed 5SOS to become to the first band ever to have its first two albums debut at number one on the charts. With Youngblood, they’re making that three. Overall, however, the album is worthy of only around 3.5 stars, due to the general repetitiveness and lack of originality of the tracks. It includes some star tracks, but it also includes many forgettable ones. Here is a ranking of every song on the album:

16. “Monster Among Men”: This song takes a few listens before you can really warm up to it. The chorus feels a little lazy and disjointed from the verses, but after a while, that’s what makes it so lovable. It’s hard not to sing along to the simple rhymes and tap your foot to the beat. Although it’s not an incredible song and certainly not innovative, it’s difficult not to like. Like the others on the album, this track showcases 5SOS stepping into a more mellow, mature side of rock.

15. Why Won’t You Love Me”: This song isn’t perfectly developed, but unlike some other songs on this album, Hemmings’s unique vocals work for the verses and chorus, which are sung in the perfect tone. The lyrics aren’t thought-provoking or strikingly original, but they sure are relatable to anyone who feels unappreciated and hopeless. It’s a solid track and good to listen to if you’re looking for a subtle downer.

14. “Youngblood”: This is the second single and title track of the album. It is often referred to by the band as the all-encompassing track and the best on the album. It has a lot to live up to, and it doesn’t exactly deliver. The lyrics are unexpectedly well-written and the beat, especially the chorus’s heavy-hitting drum, is intoxicating. But the song is repetitive and Hemming’s vocals don’t always hit the mark. Props to Irwin’s drumming though—you can really hear his passion; he’s said this is his favorite on the album by far. It’s more punk than the other tracks, but it fits in well.

13. “Meet You There”: This is one of the more surprising tracks on the album, despite the opening lyrics and chorus having been prematurely leaked by Hemming’s ex-girlfriend. The aforementioned lyrics aren’t anything special but Hemmings gives it his all vocally and it pays off. The chorus is catchy, until the singing stops and gives way to an odd electronic bit that doesn’t really fit with the song, the band, or the aesthetic. The final chorus is complemented by some groovy keyboard, which is a great touch and gives the song a highlight. It’s a bit too electronic, but it’s bound to get you singing and dancing.

12. “Lie To Me”: This track showcases the band’s newfound maturity more than most others. It’s mellow and soft, but memorable at the same time. The lyrics are well-written and thoughtful (Now I wish we never met/ ‘Cause you’re too hard to forget/ While I’m cleaning up your mess/I know he’s taking off your dress/ And I know that you don’t, but if I ask you if you love me/ I hope you lie, lie, lie, lie to me”). The vocal performance is in the middle, but the song is pretty up top. Hemmings stated that it is very personal and it takes his spot as the favorite on the album. Hood has stated that this track and “Youngblood” are the core of the album.

11. “Want You Back”: This is the leading single that burst 5SOS back into the music scene and introduced the third album. It was written last for the album in order to launch the new era of 5SOS. The band has stated that the song can have several meanings, the most obvious being a tough break-up. For the band as a whole, it means they want their fans back—and with this single, the fandom welcomed their boys back with open arms. It’s an easy, groovy hit for everyone and naturally got some radio time because of that. The lyrics include sensory details to inspire emotion and Hemming’s falsetto does the same. It’s pretty good for a mainstream song.

10. “Moving Along”: This song was one performed by the band at various shows before the release of Youngblood, so it wasn’t a surprise for fans. But for people expecting the teenage angsty 5SOS sound, it’s a real shock. This track is boppy and thoughtful, complete with perfect drumming by Irwin and solid vocals by all the boys. It’s easy to listen to and has a lovable, desperate sort of quality that makes it hard not to groove to.

9. “Better Man”: This track sounds pretty different than the other ones, which is a rare quality in this album. It’s upbeat and fun, removing that subtle melancholy tint found in most of the songs. The lyrics are lovable: “You’re the only one who can lock this wild man up in chains/ You’re the only one who can make this bad man better.” Hemmings overdoes it a bit with the vocals, but it’s definitely one the better-executed songs on the album. It shows the band diving into a completely new genre, testing out some modern pop-based reggae, and it actually works.

8. “Talk Fast”: This song is reminiscent of ‘80s rock, and it’s really cool. Hood’s voice is prominent, and he gives the smashing chorus the perfect inflection. It’s hard not to sing along to, even if you can’t really understand the lyrics. The song feels nostalgic and somewhat fleeting, like it’s over soon, but that’s kind of suiting considering its subject involves a fast-paced temporary romance; “Oh, talk fast, romance/ Oh, won’t last, I’m okay with that/ Oh, burn, crash, romance/ Oh, I’ll take what I can get from you..

7. “More”: This song balances upbeat and dark. Hemmings delivers vocally, despite the lyrics being slightly cliche (A house that’s full of everything we wanted/ But it’s an empty home/ Empty home”). You don’t even really notice it when Hemmings and Hood are belting so intently. It’s an impressive song, production and execution-wise. It seems like it would be fun to listen to live.

6. “If Walls Could Talk”: The boys delivered on this one. It’s catchy, groovy, and a vocal/instrumental success. Hemmings and Hood annunciate the verses with a quiet intensity that makes it easy to get into, and if you’re not bopping by then, Hemmings’s bridge is bound to get your foot tapping. The chorus is really well thought out. Hemmings sings most of it, but the line Hood gets (“Cuz we’d fall from grace/ We’re falling”) is perfectly placed and executed. It compliments the album really well.

5. “Valentine”: This song is completely unique and effortless. It’s a standout for sure. Hood takes the first verse, beautifully delivering the seductive, darkly romantic lyrics, establishing the gothic tone of the song. Clifford accomplishes the same with the second verse, and Hemmings provides a sickly sweet transition with the bridge (“It don’t matter, be combative or be sweet cherry pie/ It don’t matter just as long as I get all you tonight”). Hemmings uses the same honey tone with the concluding bridge, a repetition of “Full plate, don’t wait, have your cake and eat it too.” The chorus is the true star, however; it’s dark and mysterious but tender at the same time. The instruments are perfectly positioned, with special emphasis on a strong drum beat and delayed guitar. This song is a real treat to listen to, is one that shows the boys blossoming, and is a high point for Youngblood.

4. “Ghost of You”: This song more than any other on Youngblood shows the striking maturity which the boys of 5SOS have grown to acquire since their second album. One of the band’s more recognizable songs is the iconic “Amnesia,” (first album) which chronicles a painful break-up that Hemmings wishes he could forget about. “Ghost of You” is that song’s older sister. With lyrics like, “So I drown it out like I always do/ Dancing through our house with the ghost of you/ And I chase it down, with a shot of truth/ That my feet don’t dance like they did with you,” 5SOS draws from personal experience to create an authentically painful listening experience. Hood also hints at growing maturity through the lyrics, “Too young/ Too dumb/ To know things like love/ But I know better now.” This song is pretty despite being sad and, probably because the track is most likely about one of his break-ups, Hemmings particularly shines vocally. “Ghost of You” is vital for the image the band is trying to reinvent itself into.

3. “Woke up in Japan”: This song is something special. It’s very dreamy, suggesting a drug-induced haze. Characteristically, it’s shrouded in a dark sheen but at the same time it sounds innocent. Hemmings is very thoughtful concerning the fluctuation of his voice and when to crescendo the star line, “I woke up in Japan.” The lyrics are thoughtful too: “It was more than just a neon weekend/ Light slipping through the third floor curtain/ Spreading love like the morning news from the day before/ Falling fast, breathing slow/ Time is up, the end is just a dream.” It’s a wonderful addition to the album, fitting into the whole nicely and providing a unique listening experience.

2. “Empty Wallets”: This track is by far the most effortless on the album. This is ironic considering the third line is “Stop trying so hard is what you said to me.” Hemmings obviously took that advice to heart because this song flows gracefully out of the band without any gimmicks (like that electronic section in “Meet You There”). Hemmings’s vocals fit nicely with the song, especially in the bridge (Get too high when I’m high/ So we see eye-to-eye, woah, oh/ Take the high with the low/ And away and away we go.” Hood does well with the second verse, and the chorus is continually well-executed. This track is interesting because it builds upon itself. Clifford’s more intense voice compliments Hemmings’s in the second bridge, and the second and third choruses add a fleeting but brilliant almost-screamy portion: “Sugar-coated brain/ The fluid ain’t to blame/ For the sugar-coated pain.” It is very well-written, well-played, and well-sung. It’s a triumph for this new 5SOS.

1. “Babylon”: This is the only song on Youngblood that is exclusively sung by Hood. He’s not just a mediocre bassist, and he makes sure we know that on this track. Everything about this song is perfect. It’s a lot rockier than any other track, almost reminiscent of Fall Out Boy. Hood delivers lyrically and vocally with rhymes that make it so hard not to sing along to: “I thought we had a place, just our place, our home base, my headspace/ Was you and I always, but that phase has been phased in our place/ I see it on your face, a small trace, a blank slate, we’ve been erased.” The chorus is powerful, and it keeps building on itself. “Babylon” is a straight bop.

Youngblood is a respectable pop-rock album that shows purpose, even if every individual song doesn’t. All in all, 5SOS has finally discovered who they are: “a rock band with a boy band fan base,” as Hemmings put it in a Billboard interview. They have embraced that image and prospered under it, respecting their fans enough to put deep lyrics on the album, which you can’t really find in the first two. In Irwin’s words, “…no one wants to hear a man’s story from a boy. No one wants to pay attention to a deep lyric when it’s written by a 16-year old. Maybe they will when it’s written by a 24-year old. Our goal for the band was to be long-term, be important to our fans, and make the right moves.” Youngblood isn’t perfect, but it was the right move for sure. 

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