Review Summary: The Dairy Queen to One Direction's McDonald's.
There's nothing wrong with being inoffensive. There's plenty of bands nowadays who have carved out their own niche simply by playing things safe and just doing what they set out to do: by just giving the masses a CD running up to 40 minutes full of music that's so squeaky clean that even your grandma wouldn't mind it being played in her house. After all, there's a market for everything, right" How do you think One Direction are so popular" Easy: Three minute jaunts about cute girls that are tailor made to be sung along to by the girls you're likely to find hanging around your local mall. They aren't the first, however; though this kind of music had suffered some sort of a decline in the mid-2000s when glam rap and emo dominated the charts, sometime around 2007 it began to come back, and now it's bigger than ever. Enter 5 Seconds of Summer: an Aussie pop-rock band who pretty much are what you would expect: 3-minute 4-chord anthems with generic lyrics about cute girls and summer love. And they are also the latest in a long line of Youtube channels promoted for their covers of popular songs- and had also achieved a small following when they supported One Direction in 2012 on tour. And they're also the latest in a long list of those talented bands who could be great, but utterly waste their talent with such bed-wetting music.
5 Seconds of Summer's debut album isn't offensively bad in any way- hell, I wouldn't even say it's bad at all. If all you're expecting is safe, straightforward pop music, then this album is right up your alley. The songs are catchy and anthemic; they're clean and fun for the whole family. Problem is, like a lot of these kinds of albums nowadays, it's disposable. By the time you've finished the album, you've pretty much forgotten you've even listened to it. I could try to pinpoint a highlight, as I did find a few things I like about the album, but too much of it sounds the same, and in the end, you're left wondering why you bothered, and better yet, why they bothered. All of this is evident in the album's lead single, "She Looks So Perfect". It's a catchy tune, but if you have heard it, then you're pretty much heard the whole album. The lyrics are even flat-out typical: "You look so perfect standing there/In my American Apparel underwear
", which could essentially be the next "I like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch
" (could these guys actually be LFO under a different moniker"). However, thankfully the rest of the lyrical content on the album is a bit more risky (though that isn't saying much): "Amnesia" celebrates driving under the influence because you've broken up with your girlfriend (yikes), "Good Girls" implies that "Good girls are just bad girls that haven't been caught yet", and "18" is an ode to preventing statutory rape, about how a guy wishes he wasn't underage so he could sleep with a much older woman. And this would probably be a good aspect of the album if it weren't so undermined by the boring and formulaic nature.
To their credit, at least they are trying, in some way, to stand out by adding more rock to the sugary pop sound, but the result is less Blink 182 and more One Direction with a more guitar heavy sound. It's a shame, because if you've seen clips of these guys performing covers, and interview footage of them, they seem like genuinely nice and funny guys. But being generally nice guys and having a predominantly clean image doesn't make up for what is ultimately a waste of potential. Songs like "Everything I Didn't Say" show the band trying to break their formulaic sound, and to be fair, said song is the closest the album comes to being memorable- a slower track about regretting not telling the one you love what you really mean to say when you have the chance, and a truly emotional vocal performance does it good- but even that isn't as grand as an endorsement as I'm making it sound. In the end, this album comes off like a fast food product. It looks appealing, tastes appealing, but after you're done, you're likely to forget you even ate it- but will suffer the consequences with a mad stomach ache.