With the grand success of their previous release in 2018, fans were raving at the idea of new music from the band; thus, when 5 Seconds of Summer announced that they were releasing new music in 2020 the world went crazy. Let’s dive in and see if the result was worth the wait. “CALM” provides a nice juxtaposition of groovy, high pop music paired with acoustic ballads that balance out the mix. This pairing helps to stretch the boundaries of the record musically as well as emotionally. Lyrically speaking, the band touches on topics that the masses will connect to with a twist, which will help to appeal across a larger audience. Throughout the album, the band utilizes simple grooves that complement the lyrical shape. This technique was often enhanced through the use of block chords utilized in various instrumental voices: guitar, bass, and synthesizer/electronics. In general, the instrumentals that were heard throughout each track helped to create music that drove on a specific aura that is emphasized through the atmospheric instrumental wall of sound. Creating this soundscape is common of that in the alternative pop scene. This allows the band to drive on consistent grooves that interlock each selection to the next, but it also provides them with the opportunity to experiment with works that divert in terms of style and tempo and still make sense in the album’s progression. Overall, I would give this record a 4 out of 5 stars. I am giving this album such a score, for the overarching result of the record is cohesive and makes for a piece of work that is solid from top to bottom. However, there are moments in this record that feel overly repetitive, but in general, the music resonates with an ease that makes it quite pleasing.
“Teeth”, “Old Me”, and “Red Desert”
Throughout the record, it is apparent that there are a lot of selections that stand out upon an initial listen, but these tracks edge forward ever so slightly. As one listens to the album from front to back, the story of the record relays to the listener easily; however, the top tracks of the album are the ones that jump out at you- in the best way. Each of these selections drive with an overtly cool, laxed groove, which is emphasized either through large fluctuation in instrumentation or through the block chord technique. This enhanced approach to alternative pop music provides appealing experiences for the listener, which is why these tracks are so hard to pass up. In general, this album resonates best as a whole, but if you just want a preview: I’d start here.
When first looking at the cover artwork, it can be said that the image is quite appealing and right on brand with the normal 5 Seconds of Summer art. The focal point of the cover image lies around the members of the band all lying in a circle, in a relaxed state. Other than the black background, the only other part of the cover is the title and the name of the artist written in white. Let’s take a step and see if the tunes mesh well with the image that pulls people in from the outside. As talked about in the general review, the band provides a solid mix of tracks that are driven by high pop grooves, while being paired with soft acoustic ballads. This mixture fits perfectly with the album artwork, for the image on the cover depicts the members of the band just relaxing, and that’s the vibe that this mixture portrays to the listeners. The other main instrumental nuance that enhanced the relaxed state was the use of block chords and the layering of the instrumental orchestration. In general, I would say that the cover art and the music stand strong on their own, but their symmetry together makes for a solid, well-rounded record.
*”CALM” was released on March 27th, 2020 through Interscope Records*