Music / Review

Why CALM is the best album 5SOS have ever made

We can't stop pressing repeat

Have you heard the exciting 5SOS news? That’s right, our boys have scored their fourth-straight ARIA number one for their new album CALM.

That incredible feat draws them level with Silverchair as the only Australian groups to have their first four studio sets debut at number one. CALM is also 5SOS’ second Number 1 in the UK – after 2015’s Sounds Good Feels Good – and the first Australian studio album to hit No. 1 in the U.K. for two years. Queen Kylie Minogue last did it with her studio album Golden back in April 2018.

We haven’t stopped listening to the record since it came out, so we wanted to take some time to chat about why we think CALM is the best 5SOS album yet.

What makes CALM so great?

There is a lot to love about CALM. 

Across its 12 tracks, 5 Seconds of Summer explore a lot of sonic territory – some of it new, some of it an evolution on what we are used to – but don’t for a second be mistaken that this record doesn’t feel deliberate or succinct. In just 40 minutes, CALM delivers the beginnings of everything 5SOS have promised us across the last (almost) decade.

We get choral anthemic harmonies (‘Red Desert’), stripped-bare vulnerability (‘High’), hip-hop-inspired production (‘Old Me’), thumping dancefloor-ready basslines (‘Easier’), strut-worthy production (‘Wildflower’), gritty rock moments (‘Teeth’), and that is barely even touching the surface.

Sure, you can find touches of all of these elements spread throughout 5 Seconds of Summer’s discography – even all the way back to their days as a pop-punk band – but there is something more confident, self-assured and fearless about the way they package it all up on CALM.

Every song on the record (bar one) has at least one or two sets of 5 Seconds of Summer hands in its songwriting – an element that has been constant throughout the 5SOS discography. When assembling their team og co-writers and co-producers, they were definitely keeping a pop-leaning sound and fanbase in mind, with Youngblood co-writers Ali Tamposi (Camila Cabello), Andrew Watt (Ozzy Osbourne) and Louis Bell (Post Malone) in the mix. But this album pushes their sound even further – enlisting Charlie Puth on ‘Easier, Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello on ‘Teeth’, and One Republic’s Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco throughout.

Then we get to the lyrics, which are some of 5 Seconds of Summer’s most honest, raw, and introspective yet. Whether we’re looking at the contrasts of romantic relationships, confronting relationships with yourself, or relationships with society – 5SOS have come a long way from romantic motifs about American Apparel underwear. 

While the overwhelmingly positive reviews have been rolling in, this isn’t an album that cares even an inch for critical reception. CALM is 100 percent for the fans that have stuck with them across the last nine years. While the title might seem like a sign of the times, it is in fact an acronym of the boys’ names (Calum Hood, Aston Irwin, Luke Hemmings, Michael Clifford) – clever, we know. But 5SOS can’t actually take any of the credit themselves, the acronym is a nickname given to them by their fans years ago.

As well as their fans, CALM also has one other thing in mind – the live stage. This is a record ready-built for arenas. Injecting a healthy dose of high-energy belters, anthems that deserve to be shouted along to, and slower jams ready for a sea of lighters and phone torches, once 5 Seconds of Summer finally get to perform CALM, the record is certain to take on a whole new life.

Ready to dive in? To get an idea of the ride 5SOS are about to take you on over the next 40 minutes, just lineup the huge choral opening harmonies of ‘Red Desert’ with the stripped-bare falsetto that ends ‘High’. 

What is CALM’s best track?

Now that we’ve given you a little wrap-up glimpse into what you can expect from CALM’s 40-minutes, what is the album’s best track? That is a tricky question to answer, and we’re certain everyone will have different opinions – but we can’t go past ‘Wildflower’.

Not only is it our favourite track on the record, it might just be the greatest track 5 Seconds of Summer have ever written.

Right from the beginning, when those huge arena-ready choral harmonies the scene is set. It’s one of the boldest musical moments on the record, setting things up perfectly for the huge strut and groove 5SOS deliver in the chorus.

Don’t let us tell you about it though, take it from the band. While chatting on Beats1 to Zane Lowe, vocalist Luke Hemmings had nothing but praise for the tune. “It’s one of the boldest and the brightest [tracks] on the album. It’s definitely a bit of a wild card…it’s a different way that we’re trying to expand what we can do as a vocal group…’Wildflower’ is unapologetically bright and bold, and I love that about it,” he says.

Drummer Ashton Irwin echoed the sentiment when chatting with Capital FM’s Jimmy Hill. “[‘Wildflower’ is] one of my favourite songs we’ve got on our record. I think it’s one of the most unique pop songs we’ve written.”

For a little inside look, bassist Calum Hood takes us inside some of the track’s production:

What do 5SOS think about CALM?

We know that you don’t just want to hear from us about why CALM is the best 5SOS album ever, so we’ve combed through the internet and deep-dived through many many hours of 5 Seconds of Summer interviews (for research, of course) to pull together some of our favourite CALM quotes from the guys themselves.

Back to that previously mentioned Zane Lowe interview that was an absolute treasure trove of goodies – like this quote from Calum, “[The album is] a source of light and positivity for so many people, and especially amongst these times it was important to release music. We need music more right now than ever.” You are 1000& correct on that one Cal.

They continued that same sentiment in an interview with Official Charts following their number 1 debut – “To the people that listen to our music, it is so hard to describe the joy and fulfilment that we get from writing music for you to listen to and enjoy as you pass through life. It is a pleasure to be on such an iconic journey with you as we grow up and our music progresses into new areas of imagination. 

“With the state that the world is in at the moment, I hope our record CALM has brought you happiness and is a soundtrack to stimulate escapism from the confines of your bedroom. CALM was created for that exact reason. ” 

In an interview with Billboard, the guys spoke about just what this album means to them. “This is the best representation of who we are, not just as artists, but as people,” Cal said. Luke echoed that sentiment, “We’re a rock band in a pop space, and [we’re] pushing those boundaries of what that can be in this day and age.” 

A chat with Music Feeds earlier in the year also provided some gold about what 5 Seconds of Summer think about CALM. 

About who the album is for – “What’s so important for us with this record is that not only is it a record we made for ourselves but it’s also really made for our fans in mind. I think that our fans are really, really going to love this record. From all different angles, we want them to know that this record is for them as much as it is for us,” Michael said.

About the themes – “There are multiple concepts that are saturated through the lyrical process. There was definitely a different approach to this one,” Ashton said, “We enjoy writing about coming of age and what we’ve gone through and where we’re at to date. A lot of this record is us understanding each other…We really made a conscious effort to step forward and understand each other as men and not judge each other’s lives. We needed to accept each other’s lives and be gracious about that. That’s what makes us a great band.

“There’s definitely a lightness to it. I feel like the last album was pretty heavy and dark. Whereas this one has that side of it with the lighter side of life and moving forward rather than being stuck in one place,” Luke said. “You’ve got that darkness and also the moving forward, the acceptance, the forgiveness and moving on and forward with life.”

What have the fans said?

5 Seconds of Summer have some of the funniest, most passionate fans we’ve come across on social media, so we couldn’t write this article without including some of your absolute gold.

Also incredibly talented:

So there you have it. 5SOS have released a perfect pop record with CALM and we will be listening to it over and over. If you haven’t already, take a listen to CALM below. Or give it another listen, who’s counting?

5 Seconds of Summer 2020 Australia Tour Dates

  • Friday 27 November – HOTA, Home of the Arts, Gold Coast
  • Saturday 28 November – Riverstage, Brisbane
  • Monday 30 November – HBF Stadium, Perth
  • Saturday 5 December – Sydney Opera House Forecourt
  • Sunday 6 December – Sydney Opera House Forecourt

5 Seconds of Summer will bring their No Shame World tour to Australia this November and December. Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster.com.au

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