Sound — 7
I think that people are being prejudiced because of the many labels that the media have given them. Personally I find the album to be a pretty good debut album for 4 teens. I must agree that their album is a touch more pop than I would have liked, and perhaps their next album could be a bit grittier, but the songs mostly fall into the pop punk category. I'm writing this as an unbiased teenager, and not just some obsessed fangirl. I've listened to it for a few months now and have come to give my honest to God opinion, not to just sh-t all over them or to totally overexaggerate them either.
The sound is essentially pop with that little hint of pop punk/pop rock. Not entirely pop, yet not entirely punk either. There's a few lyrics that are naughty enough to get you riled but safe enough to sing in the car. All of the boys sing, with Luke Hemmings as the lead, Michael Clifford as the lead guitarist, Calum Hood as the bassist and Ashton Irwin as the drummer.
The vocals are safe to say some of the high points of the album. Luke Hemmings can clearly hold his own and Calum Hood has some gorgeous vocals when he wants to. Michael Clifford is perhaps not exactly the next male Mariah Carey but his voice is gritty enough to suit a more edgier song had there been one on the album. The little solos Ashton Irwin has been given don't really give him a chance to shine, so here's hoping the next album will give Clifford and Irwin some space to shine.
What I love is that these boys actually play their own shit as well. Not just let others do it for them. Clifford's guitar skills are admirable, and Hemmings' solo in "Heartbreak Girl" shows his to be just as competent. Hood's bass playing is nothing to sniff at either, and Irwin's drumming is actually pretty good. You might not notice it, but once you listen to it, it's amazing.
If punk was the sound they were going for, they didn't get it. What they ended up with was a nice, poppy album with the smallest hints of punk. But it wasn't too bad a result. As a bunch of teenagers, their music skills are pretty damn good, but maybe their next album will push more boundaries.
Lyrics — 7
01. "She Looks So Perfect" was probably one of the stronger tracks in the album. The screaming chants, the staccato notes of Michael's guitar, the melodies and Luke Hemmings' vocals are all what pin the song down to be their best selling song so far. True, the lyrics could have been a bit less cliché in various points, but for the most part it really shows the audience the sound of 5SOS and their personality - pop with a subtle note of punk/rock. Clifford and Irwin wrote this track, and they generally write the more quirkier, more sexual tracks.
02. "Don't Stop" I felt was a little less stronger than the previous track, and is a lot more clichéd than it should have been. Had the lyrics been a bit more original, it could have proven to be an even better track, but luckily the general melody saves it from a despairing fate. Luke Hemmings and Calum Hood wrote this one, and they're usually the writers of more safer tracks.
03. "Good Girls" was one of the better tracks, with some good melodies, some excellent vocals from Michael and some great lyrics. The Sprechgesang was not in their favour, I feel, but the rest was all fantastic. Had this been released as the second single, I feel like this could have easily kept up the momentum that 5SOS were attaining. The album version is miles better than the single version. It's no surprise that Irwin and Clifford wrote this track.
04. "Kiss Me Kiss Me" was again a bit of a let down but it had its moments. Written with Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low, the chorus is probably its highest point. The guitar riffs were obviously from Gaskarth and he did a good job of providing some classic ATL melodies in the guitar parts. Hood and Hemmings, of course, wrote this song.
05. "18" raised up the momentum again, with quirky lyrics such as "She's got a naughty tattoo in/A place I wanna get to/But my mum still drives me to school" and a gritty guitar riff. Personally, the lyrics are the highest point for me, but otherwise it's a decent song. Hemmings and Clifford team up to write this song.
06. "Everything I Didn't Say" is now entering the break-up song territory, and is filled with emotional lyrics. The only downside is that it's boring. In my opinion, pop punk should catch the listener at first glance. That's the pop part of it. And unless you have the patience to really sit down and listen to it, this isn't the song to quickly get you hooked. Irwin and Hood wrote this.
07. "Beside You" is practically the same as "Everything I Didn't Say." Spawning from the minds behind Amy Meredith, "Beside You" is too clichéd and a little too boring for me. The only thing that surprised me was the strings section, really. The vocals were a nice touch, but really it didn't appeal much to me. Again, you have to listen to it a few times to really get into it. I think this song was recorded before the album, too. Clichéd lyrics, safe atmosphere... It's sort of obvious that Hood and Hemmings wrote it.
08. "End Up Here" is a little more interesting, with the vocally powerful chorus and self deprecating manner that is so familiar with punk. Its second chorus claps are sure to keep a stadium going and to raise the energy by miles. Irwin and Clifford wrote this one.
09. "Long Way Home" features surprising piano chords at the beginning that fit in quite nicely. This one is a little more lyrically rich, which I like, such as "We're hiding out in a dream/Catching fire like kerosene." But apart from the lyrics and catchy intro, the song is a bit of a let down. Irwin and Clifford also wrote this.
10. "Heartbreak Girl" manages to pick it up a little. Like "Beside You," I believe this was recorded before the actual album and it's pretty catchy. The guitar riff, the whole theme of the song, "Heartbreak Girl" doesn't disappoint. It would probably have more attention if it was placed a little higher. Hood and Hemmings team up once again to write this one.
11. "English Love Affair" is similar to "Everything I Didn't Say" in that it's not the catchiest at first glance, but it definitely creeps up on you. Once you have the patience to listen to it more than a few times, it gets better and better with every listen, and the edgy lyrics and chants become more and more endearing. Quirky and sexy... Of course Clifford and Irwin wrote this one.
12. "Amnesia" is more pop than punk but it doesn't really matter. Penned by the men of Good Charlotte, "Amnesia" features really beautiful vocals that do showcase the talents of the boys and lyrics that will possibly drive every one of their fan girls crazy. It's a bit of a shame that its not a little punk but really the lyrics and vocals make up for it. The live version is a lot more better than this too.
13. "Social Casualty" shocked me, as the riff is pretty much "Sugar, We're Going Down" from Fall Out Boy, which saddened me. They could do a lot better. The lyrics are interesting, but not enough to grip me. Apart from being a little bit of a rip off of Fall Out Boy, this track isn't enough for me. Hemmings and Clifford wrote this one.
14. "Never Be" only has good lyrics for me, and otherwise, it's boring. "Never Be" could have done better, but its stuck with some boring melodies. It's an unfortunately low point to be at near the end. The verses are just boring but the chorus is more uplifting: "We'll never be as young as we are now." Maybe had the chorus been placed in another song with better verses it would have worked better. Hemmings and Hood wrote this.
15. "Voodoo Doll" features smooth vocals and nice rhythms and honestly, for the deluxe version, it's a good song to end it on. Of course, the acoustic version of "Don't Stop" is what it ends on, but Voodoo Doll is the last produced song. It's lyrics are generally interesting, its vocals not too shabby and the melodies are quite catchy. Again, the acoustic version is better. Hood and Irwin wrote this one.
Overall, the album has its highs and lows, and I feel like it just floats in the middleground. To fully appreciate it, you have to sort of listen to it for quite a bit. But not bad for some teens from Riverstone.
Overall Impression — 7
If you're looking for something groundbreaking, this is not the album for you. If you want a little gateway into pop punk, in which the music is still stuff you can listen to with your parents, then this one would be suitable. It's not very similar to One Direction, personally, despite many comparisons. Live on stage, the boys are in fact different to One Direction. Personally I would like it if they were less manufactured, but you can't deny that these boys can f--king write and play. I expect better things from them next time round. Don't judge because they toured with 1D (and to set the record straight I don't even like 1D, so I'm not defending them because I'm a Directioner). Hopefully next time round the album will be more edgier and perhaps with more substance to it, but overall a very impressive feat for some teens. Go 5SOS! :)