In just a few years, 5 Seconds of Summer have reinvented themselves from pop-punk misfits to fully fledged pop-rock gods. But the journey wasn’t always easy. From overcoming boy band stereotypes to dealing with deep heartbreak, we take a look at how the four boys from Australia grew into men.
Five years ago today, the band released their debut self-titled album. It was an angsty collection of innocent emotions and thoughts on love and heartbreak that unpacked all the best parts of pop-punk we had boxed up years ago, and it was spectacularly refreshing. Their debut hit single ‘She Looks So Perfect’ encapsulated the band perfectly and introduced the world to a new wave of skinny jeans and distorted basslines, and the vulnerable ‘Amnesia’ opened back up the emo era we had all collectively pined over. But despite being everything a pop-punk band entailed, 5 Seconds of Summer weren’t considered one.
This was probably due to being under the world’s biggest boyband’s wing. Having secured an opener spot for two of One Direction’s tours in 2013 and 2014, 5 Seconds of Summer successfully tapped into one of the biggest fanbases of all time and kind of became a big deal. But the gesture was bittersweet. While the band were being thrown into the spotlight and skyrocketing their career, they were doing it with an identity they hadn’t really wanted: as a boy band.
While the band chewed over the implications of that label, they kept trying to push their punky look and sound onto the masses. Their second album Sounds Good Feels Good became a very in-your-face record that screamed who the band were from the top of their lungs. Produced by pop-punk connoisseur and frontman of punk band Goldfinger, John Feldmann, the album has a very deliberate sound that’s hard to be mistaken for anything but a pop-punk band. Hit singles ‘She’s Kinda Hot’ and ‘Jet Black Heart’ are ‘She Looks So Perfect’ and ‘Amnesia’ all grown up. Playing up the grungy elements that had been lost in their previous hits, 5 Seconds of Summer were more angsty and emotional than ever.
But eventually the last drops of squeaky adolescence must run dry and with it the evaporating lure of the pop-punk stigma. It was then that a quickly maturing 5 Seconds of Summer had to make a decision about what the next direction for the band was. Continue down the pop-punk path and eventually fall off the radar or try and crack it into the mainstream? The band’s third and latest album Youngblood, released three years from their prior, is by far the best record they’ve made yet.
Stepping back onto the scene after a well-deserved break, 5 Seconds of Summer shocked the world with both a newer and more defined look and sound that dropped the punk but kept all the pop. Incorporating new wave 80s music and synthesisers with heavy indie and pop-rock elements, Youngblood is a masterpiece that tackles all the same themes the band are used to but in a more mature and lyrically defined way. The title track ‘Youngblood’ is a stadium hit with booming drums that was just born to shoot for the stars and lead single ‘Want You Back’ is a catchy toe-tapper about yearning for a lost love; a theme that is prominent on the entire album.
It’s clear that 5 Seconds of Summer have truly found their groove. Their latest track ‘Easier,’ released at the end of May this year, is a teaser for the band’s highly anticipated fourth album. Sounding as if it could be a Youngblood B-side, the track takes all the best elements from the third album and compacts it into a little bit of 80s goodness that just misses the 3-minute mark. Whatever they choose to be next, 5 Seconds of Summer are on the cusp of becoming one of the greatest bands in the modern era. But just don’t call them a boy band.