Sounds Good Feels Good / 5 Seconds of Summer

IMG_6892Where do I begin? 5 Seconds of Summer pour their hearts and souls into their sophomore album, Sounds Good Feels Good. The first half is taken over by their classic pop punk sound with songs like “She’s Kinda Hot,” “Money” and “Hey Everybody.” Then it turns into something deeper, something people can relate to during “Broken Home” and “Airplanes.” Erase whatever preconceived idea of 5 Seconds of Summer that you have. It’s no longer all about four boys wishing they could get the girl (however, of course there are some songs that are still like that). There’s no debate that this album marks a critical point in the band’s history. The construction, the lyrics, the emotion that goes into each track makes all of them unique in their own way.

Released under Capitol Records and the band’s personal label, Hi or Hey Records, the album was produced by John Feldmann, who has also worked with bands like All Time Low, Sleeping With Sires, Black Veil Brides and Panic! At The Disco. The guys received a lot of help from Feldmann and other key people in writing their songs. SGFG has 14 tracks, the deluxe provides three additional songs, and an exclusive Target edition holds two more songs.

Brief background of 5SOS: The band consists of four guys from Australia; Luke Hemmings (guitar, vocals), Calum Hood (bass, vocals), Michael Clifford (guitar, vocals) and Ashton Irwin (drums, vocals). Sounds Good Feels Good is the second studio album for the band. They started the band in 2011 while they were still in high school and got their big break when One Direction invited them to open for their tour – twice. In May of this year, 5SOS journeyed on their first headline tour visiting Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America. Following the release of their latest album, they will embark on their “Sounds Live Feel Live” 2016 tour.

Previously, it wasn’t uncommon to see Hemmings pinned as the lead singer, but this album changes that. Every member of the group, even the drummer, have their songs. No one holds back in this album. They all have an amazing talent for projecting their voice filled with emotion and passion for what they are singing, and they don’t take that for granted in SGFG. Another musical change is that the London Symphony Orchestra makes an appearance in a few songs. It was a creative twist that added a new and different vibe to the songs.

Disclaimer: I don’t want to say that this post is biased, but it kind of is. I am being honest with everything I write though – I wouldn’t lie to you. I’ve been a fan of this band for about three years now, I’ve seen them grow through their ups and downs. I saw the production of their first album, their numerous EPs, their worldwide tours, their popularity explode. This is by far their greatest creation to date. They are honest with themselves and with their audience. They aren’t afraid to touch on deeper and darker subjects.

“No one is writing music that highlights what everyone is scared to talk about – which is that everyone is sick and depressed these days. People out age, we feel like shit about ourselves. We wake up and we look at our phones and there are a thousand opinions on who we are – or what we are,” Irwin said in an interview with Billboard.

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Fans with some of the “characters” of The New Broken Scene

There’s no question about how much hard work 5SOS put into SGFG. A few months ago, grafitti images representing a song from the album began to pop up all around the world. It was a creative and interactive way to reach out to all of their fans since they can’t visit everyone at the same time. The band has explained that each song has a “character” that sort of personifies the song in a way.

The first single, “She’s Kinda Hot,” is the second track on SGFG and, while the title sounds misleading, it is a cry out to the rest of the people in The New Broken Scene. It was an anthem to all the damaged kids. The second single was “Hey Everybody!” (the music video just came out a week ago, you can watch it here) and it has a similar sound to SKH. It carries a “Hungry Like The Wolf” beat by Duran Duran and it’s a wake up call saying that everyone has the chance to be happy and successful.

After pre-ordering the album, three songs were eventually made available to download before the October 23 album release date: “Fly Away,” “Jet Black Heart” and “Money.” The first of the three is a song that dreams about escape and adventure which makes sense since the four boys were itching to get out of their home town. One of my favorites on the entire album, “Jet Black Heart,” carries emotional vocals that sends shivers down your spine. It was the first deep song that gave a peak into what kind of material the rest of the album would touch on. “Money,” the opening song to the album, was released on September 17 and is one of the loudest songs that makes you want to get up and dance. It has a strong guitar presence and the drums are powerful, pushing the band further away from a “pop” genre.

Since the beginning of their headline tour in May, 5SOS introduced “Permanent Vacation” to the crowd which is the fourth track on the album. Joel and Benji Madden helped write the song, and the brothers also had a voice in many of the other songs. This song is definitely something you hear and think “oh, that would sound good live” which is probably why they added it early to their setlist.

All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth, Clifford, Hemmings and Michael Green put their heads together to write “Catch Fire.” It follows “Jet Black Heart,” possessing this hopeful tone on a consistent soft and slow beat. It may be a song about trying to win someone over, but it digs deeper with lyrics like So how does it feel? Alone, is it so surreal? Cause the ghost of survivor’s guilt can be so unkind.

Safety Pin” is one of the three additional songs available on the deluxe version, and it was also included in the She’s Kinda Hot EP. It draws attention back to who they are singing about – The New Broken Scene. The broken heart with a safety pin has become an icon for the scene and for the album and this song is the manifestation of that symbol. With each song on the album, they become more honest and real.

5SOS recorded the entire album in Los Angeles with Feldmann. “The first day we flew into LA we wrote [‘Waste The Night‘],” Hood shared via Twitter. This is the most repetitive song on the album, and the lyrics lack the proper depth that is heard in the other songs. Possibly the most fascinating part of this song is the interlude at the end that makes you check your phone to see if you’re still listening to the same song.  Instead of all the attention typically going to the lyrics, I advise the listener to place their focus on the instruments. That is where the greatness lies in this song.

Unrequited love. It’s something everyone probably faces at least sometime in their life. 5SOS brings that feeling to life in “Vapor.” The chorus is bittersweet and yearning for a love that they can’t have. They capture the sadness when hearing a lie is preferred over hearing the truth. While 5SOS have sung about a topic like this or similar to this before, this goes to another level. They produce a certain atmosphere with their music that hasn’t been heard. An orchestra is introduced in some parts of the song that helps push that song to a place they’ve never gone before.

These boys can’t seem to escape the painful grip of heartbreak. The pace is picked up in “Castaway,” a song about being left holding your heart in your hands. It’s another song that lacks the certain depth expected in the album after listening to months of interviews promising that, but it makes up in the build of the song. The instruments pack the same amount of emotion as the vocals (if not more).

The second bonus song on the deluxe, “The Girl Who Cried Wolf,” felt like a message the band sent to their audience. It recognizes loneliness and hopelessness, even if it isn’t directly stated and people don’t take you seriously. Is there anyone there at all? Cause I’m not leaving. It’s one of the sadder songs on SGFG, a song that carries their earlier promise to touch on issues that a lot of people deal with.

Broken Home” is a song that stands out. Benji Madden, who helped write the song, grew up in a broken home and is reportedly the one who came to the band with the idea. Ashton is the only member of 5SOS who understands and can relate to the special pain that this song is about. When I first heard it, it felt to me like the prequel of blink-182’s “Stay Together for the Kids.” There’s that pain, that confusion of wondering “When did this end? When did you lose your happiness?” Then it leads to a desperation of trying to keep the family together, of wanting to suffer through the hard times together instead of calling it quits. This is the song I was waiting to hear from 5SOS. The band is capable of writing heartbreaking, truthful songs like this and they need to utilize that ability more often.

Keeping the beat slow and the lyrics somber, Hood takes control in “Invisible.” Recorded acoustically and ending with a painfully sweet orchestra piece, this song makes me kind of speechless. It’s in the same place, same mindset as “Broken Home.” The theme of the song is in the title. Asking the important questions, contemplating over self identity, this song will speak to many people.

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“Airplanes”

Spirits are lifted during the buoyant and confident “Airplanes.” It starts slow, a little insecure, but it ends with a bang. Written by Clifford and Feldmann, the former sings almost the entire song with a contagious eagerness in his voice. It’s a promise not to sit in the background and watch life pass them by. I won’t fade into darkness. “Ashton played the entire song in one take,” Feldmann said in an interview with Fuse. “That song for me just solidified what this band is, for me, as excellent musicians. Ashton is one of the three best drummers I’ve ever recorded.”

Filled with a passionate sense of nostalgia, 5SOS look back on a night of being free and in love in “San Francisco.” It may be in the category of the slower songs, but it has this energy that makes it loud. The best word I can think of to describe the sound of this song is vibrant  (“full of energy; lively; strong”). Hopefully this song will be added to their set list because I can just picture a crowd of people shouting along to the chorus.

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“Outer Space”

I can’t think of a better way to conclude this album other than with “Outer Space / Carry On.” At 6 minutes 39 seconds, this is by far the longest 5SOS song. In an interview, Feldmann said that he took the boys to San Simeon, a tiny town with no cell service, to record the two songs that they made into one. “We wrote ‘Carry On’ together, looking at the ocean. This idea just came across like, ‘Everything is going to be alright,'” Feldmann said. The song is beautifully written, and “Carry On” has this hopeful undertone that everyone should hear and be reminded of.

The Target exclusive album comes with two bonus songs: “The Space Between a Rock and a Hard Place” and “Story of Another Us.” Josh Ramsay of Mariana’s Trench provided some influence in the writing of the latter song.

If you made it this far, then thank you! I know this was a long read, but I felt I had something to say for every song. Tell me what you thought of the album and what your favorite song was in the comments.

>Nikole, where can I listen to this album? It sounds great!

>Good question, dear reader! Here is where you can listen to Sounds Good Feels Good:

iTunes

Spotify

Amazon

YouTube

Thanks for reading,

Nikole

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3 thoughts on “Sounds Good Feels Good / 5 Seconds of Summer

  1. I think SGFG is their best album (from all their EPs and albums) and i love this new sound. Their songs talk about everyday things, about emotions that everybody feels.

    Your review was great, you described everything i felt when i heard the album. I really liked the way you described each song, especially vapor and jet black heart

    Liked by 1 person

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