Review Summary: "Who the hell are you now?"
Five albums into a project that many presumed would have died with MySpace, Hollywood Undead still resembles their former selves. However, their emphasis has definitely shifted and they've branched out musically a bit. Part of the change happened simply because Deuce got replaced before their second LP was released. "American Tragedy" contained less songs about their dicks/bitches, and more about violence, despair, addiction, depression, redemption, and the like. This was a pleasant change for the band, and thankfully left "Swan Songs" in the dust as their worst album. Five certainly varies from the last three albums as well in some ways, but the changes seem pretty natural.
California Dreaming, Renegade, Broken Record, Pray (put em in the dirt), Bang Bang, Your Life, and We Own The Night are all pretty standard non-party HU songs about violence, dreams turned to dust, depression, and trying to stay positive in the midst of hardships. Out of these, I'd say that Broken Record, Bang Bang, and Your Life are pulled off most successfully. Broken Record starts off a bit iffy with a few uninteresting lyrics in Charlie Scene's first verse, but his chorus more than makes up for that and demonstrates that Hollywood Undead can still create very moving and emotional ballads. Johnny's second verse is spot on and Danny's bridge helps to bring a nice dose of hopefulness to a pretty depressing song. Bang Bang and Your Life are both pretty standard for heavy HU songs musically, but lyrically they contribute towards Five being HU's most empowering and hopeful album so far. Sure, they have always had some songs of this sort here and there, but Five boasts a total of four straight up empowerment songs. In contrast, their previous albums each have perhaps one or two of this type of song.
Whatever It Takes and Nobody's Watching are the other two empowerment songs, and are also musically diverse for HU. Whatever It Takes sounds more similar to Eminem's 'Till I Collapse than it does any of HU's past material. Charlie raps about siezing victory in the chorus, while the other members (minus Funny Man) strike similar notes in the verses, and the instrumentals project the feeling of confidence quite well. Nobody's Watching feels like a gospel song in the chorus, and goes to hip hop during the verses. Danny emotionally sings about not worrying about what the world thinks, and near the end of the song is even joined by choir that resembles one you might hear in a church. It's another example of HU branching out musically, and it helps create diversity in the album and for the band as a whole.
Bad Moon and Ghost Beach are also not typical HU songs musically speaking. Bad Moon follows the trend of Nobody's Watching of integrating more of a hip hop feel, and Danny's Chorus is very top 40ish sounding. It's nothing to write home about, but works as a filler song and also shows HU trying different things. Ghost Beach is the only song they've ever done which only features Danny, and his voice is able to shine pretty well in this nostalgic ballad about changes he's noticed in Los Angeles. It sounds a bit like a Twenty-One Pilots song, and is another one that could scare some fans into thinking that HU is trying to cross over into a more mainstream sound.
Riot, Cashed Out, and Black Cadillac demonstrate that they have unfortunately not evolved completely out of creating immature songs about bitches and dicks. None are quite as cringy as songs like Everywhere I Go, but they run along similar lines and are unfortunate hiccups in an otherwise solid album. It would have been nice if they could have just left them out and made it an eleven song LP, but I suppose that any fan of HU is pretty used to taking the bad along with the good.
In conclusion, Five is a pretty decent record in which they implement some tried and true, experiment a bit, fail to completely grow out of tiresome party songs, and place more lyrical emphasis on empowerment than they have in the past. While certainly better than Swan Songs, I'm not sure how I'd compare it to their other albums. All of the post Swan Songs albums have pretty varying positives and negatives, which makes it difficult to rank them. If you're not an HU fan, I'd reccomend checking out Nobody's Watching, Whatever It Takes, Bad Moon, and Ghost Beach because they sound the least like past HU material. Fans should be able to get into songs like California Dreaming, We Own The Night, Your Life, and Bang Bang pretty easily. As for me, I enjoyed most of the album, but think that in Five HU hits the target best with their empowerment songs.
Whatever It Takes