When I was 13 the most important thing in the world to me was bands (and they still kind of are). I grew up in the moment of pop-punk, guy-liner emo bands and it was the best. I spent my nights and parts of my days in middle school listening to Green Day and Fall Out Boy. They knew how to capture my lonely, “get out of this town” persona perfectly. But like my growing up and going through a period where I was really obsessed with The Who’s “Tommy” (because I like to think I’m an old soul), emo bands phased out. Somewhere along the line The All-American Rejects weren’t as popular and people suddenly got really into Adele. But I’ve never forgotten my bands.
Which is why, today, I’m slightly obsessed with 5 Seconds of Summer. Now, you can call them a boyband even though that’s not entirely true. But you also can’t really call them a full rock band. People love to label and there seems to be a frustration over what 5sos actually is. And I wonder if it was really that long ago that people have forgotten that pop-punk was a vibrant genre of music. 5sos stands as the next generation of emo rockers that continue to exist if you seek them out. They’re not Metallica, but they’re also not One Direction. They’re blissfully somewhere in between.
In honor of the release of 5sos’ new album “Sounds Good Feels Good,” I’ve recruited my friend Sarah, who also grew up in the guy-liner years, to listen to the album and discuss our thoughts. Here’s that conversation:
Steph: First, thanks for doing this. I know you’re not as sentimental about this kind of music as I am, but you know every Blink-182 lyric like ever so you’re trustworthy.
Sarah: Thanks! This is true.
Steph: What’s your favorite band from when you were in middle school?
Sarah: I was obsessed with Yellowcard. I would dance around my purple room blasting their music.
Steph: And, of course, why do you like 5 Seconds of Summer now?
Sarah: Because of Luke…And because they play their own instruments and write their own songs and when you watch them you know they’re having the time of their lives.
Steph: I couldn’t agree more! On the Luke front and with everything else, too. OK, let’s get started. The first song on “Sounds Good Feels Good” is called “Money.”
Sarah: This song is clearly about you. Black converse, black jeans, blue hair. I would go through the drive thru with Luke any day.
Steph: I did have blue hair at one point in high school, yes.
Sarah: I like “Money” because it reminds me of being a broke college student.
Steph: It kind of just reminds me of the Beastie Boys.
Steph: I like “She’s Kinda Hot,” but I feel like it’s one of the weaker songs on the album. It’s catchy but it’s also kind of dumb. No disrespect, of course.
Sarah: I agree. It’s good but it’s not my favorite. And maybe that’s because it’s been out for awhile. The second half of the song is better than the first.
Steph: Yeah, I always end up hating singles because they’re usually the most surface level songs, aka the simplest. But Ashton singing is great.
Sarah: “Hey Everybody!” is great because it again reminds me that I’m poor. And the music video is genius.
Steph: The first time I heard it I was like YES DURAN DURAN SAMPLING. The video has a lot of Luke in it and puppies. Both things I can get behind. Also, this is a good moment to bring up that we both love Luke, but who is your second fav in the band? Because THAT is a very important question.
Sarah: Calum T. Hood, because he wrote a turtle poem when he was six.
Steph: Second fav is Michael Clifford. You have to say his first and last name.
Steph: “Permanent Vacation” is very Green Day-like. Also, Michael Clifford kills it.
Sarah: It’s catchy (starts singing)…
Steph: I like that this song isn’t about girls or partying. It’s actually about being depressed. They’re talented songwriters. They can make a song about wanting to get out sound catchy.
Sarah: It also makes me wonder where they like to go on vacation. Do they like America? Does Calum like to visit the Kiwis in New Zealand?
Steph: God, I hope so.
Sarah: I looked up what “jet black” means and it means a very dark and dramatic black with blue and purple undertones. That’s hella deep. That’s not a normal red and pink heart. That’s punk.
Steph: So punk! Is it safe to say “Jet Black Heart” is the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” of 2015? Maybe. It’s making me nostalgic at least.
Steph: “Catch Fire” is perfect. It makes me very happy. It sounds different from everything else on the album.
Sarah: It sounds like One Direction.
Steph: But somehow it also sounds like them. This is a good moment to point out all of the American references on this album. Like the “Oh say” in this song and then the entire “San Fransisco” song. They love us!
Sarah: Yes! It’s still upbeat, but not as rocky. Not as punk.
Steph: Which is actually really punk. They are so meta.
Sarah: I just really like this song.
Steph: Me too. But the song also makes no sense.
Sarah: Yeah, I’m reading the lyrics and they are slightly confusing.
Steph: I think the whole “Safety Pin” thing is very them, too. It’s a unique twist on an old idea. It also shows that they can come up with different imagery than what’s been used in other songs a million times.
Sarah: Like that “Stitches” song. I don’t like that song, it’s weird. Another thing is, a safety pin isn’t permanent. So it’s got a lot of hidden messages. Another sign this album isn’t shallow. It’s not about girls, sex, and summertime fun.
Steph: So you’re saying it’s no “Cool for the Summer?”
Sarah: DIE FOR EACH OTHER.
Steph: I have so many opinions/feelings about “Waste the Night.”
Sarah: So many feels.
Steph: Prime Luke. This song is all him. The first time I listened to it I was like, “Yaassss.” It reminds me of everything I ever listened to in 7th grade.
Sarah: It’s deep. It’s like if you have time to eat candy, you should just eat candy. Just do it. You don’t know when the moment will come again.
Steph: I just want to say that the actual music of this song is the best part.
Sarah: Yeah. And I feel like if we met Luke he wouldn’t waste any time.
Steph: Disclaimer: He’s definitely over 18.
Sarah: Yes, of course.
Steph: So “Vapor?”
Sarah: It doesn’t stand out that much to me. I still like it, but there’s a lot of Calum.
Steph: So not the strongest track, but still worthwhile. I love the “make it sound so sweet when you lie to me.” Classic emo line.
Steph: I feel like they’ve tweeted a million times about loving “Castaway.” I like it, but it also just reminds me of the Tom Hanks movie.
Sarah: I was going to say, did they watch that movie and think they needed a song about Wilson?
Steph: But in reality, it’s another imagery thing. “Lonely like a castaway” is actually a pretty solid lyric. It’s also really intense. I feel like they’re yelling at me.
Sarah: Is this song about a particular person?
Steph: Even if it was, the boys aren’t going to Swift it. They won’t stoop to that level.
Steph: I like the intro of “The Girl Who Cried Wolf.” And it’s also another good example of imagery. It may sound cliche at first, but I like the way they tie it together. The whole “is anyone there at all” lyric is really smart.
Sarah: I agree. When they scream “is anyone there at all” I just want to scream back “I’m here!”
Steph: I’m just in love with that lyric.
Sarah: It shows a lot of vulnerability.
Steph: If they’re going for the whole dramatic, emo thing they’ve got it captured right with this track.
Sarah: But it’s still simple.
Sarah: I have a lot of opinions on “Broken Home.” The last song I heard about a broken home was “Stay Together for the Kids” from Blink.
Steph: I’m getting emotional keep going.
Sarah: It just makes me really proud. They also say “mum,” which brings in that Australian culture.
Steph: It just reminds me of Simple Plan. I spent a considerable amount of time listening to them during a period of 6th grade. So many feels.
Steph: I feel like having “Fly Away” after “Broken Home” on the album makes no sense. It fails on so many levels. I would rather listen to “She’s Kinda Hot” instead.
Sarah: I just wish it was placed somewhere else on the album. It would be better if it didn’t follow “Broken Home.”
Steph: It devalues it for sure. “Broken Home” is such a powerhouse.
Steph: I don’t know how I feel about “Invisible.” It borders that Simple Plan territory again. Or even Green Day.
Sarah: This reminds me of a Yellowcard song called “Shadows and Regrets.” It’s very “when you forget who you are then nothing else matters.”
Steph: So it’s basically the most emo thing on the album?
Steph: “Airplanes” is interesting, too. It’s very Michael Clifford heavy. Which I’m fine with.
Sarah: It has nothing to do with airplanes. It’s that imagery thing again.
Steph: It’s a very happy sound but I think it’s meant to be read into a lot more than teenage girls will probably realize.
Sarah: It may even be too deep for me to understand! 5sos has outsmarted us again!
Steph: I love them.
Sarah: “I can still taste you.” That’s my favorite line of “San Fransisco.”
Steph: They like to say taste a lot. That’s one of my lyric pet peeves. But I’m glad San Fransisco made such an impact on them!
Steph: OK. Moment of truth. What are your thoughts on “Outer Space/Carry On?”
Sarah: I’m confused by it.
Steph: Too prog-rock for you?
Sarah: Yup. Outer Space is like wooooaaahhh.
Steph: They just really wanted their “Bohemian Rhapsody” moment.
Sarah: They say castaway in this one, too. Connections!
Steph: I like that.
Sarah: I don’t know how I feel about the ambiguous two songs in one thing. I think “Carry On” speaks more to me.
Steph: The whole “If I was an island” line really makes me laugh. Because Luke is not that ambiguous. The choir in “Carry On” really caught me by surprise the first time I heard it. It just reminded me of the gospel version of Nick Jonas’ “Jealous.”
Sarah: I really like “Carry On.” The song really gets good once we get past “Outer Space.” I enjoy the chorus.
Steph: Let the good times roll! Luke is particularly attractive to me in this half of the song.
Sarah: I only wish it was longer.
Steph: It still kind of rocks my world every time I listen to it, though.
Favorite track- Sarah: “Catch Fire” and “Hey Everybody!”
Steph: “Waste the Night” and “Catch Fire”
Least favorite track- Sarah: “Outer Space” half of the last song.
Steph: “Fly Away”
Sarah: The album starts off really exciting, cheery, and rocky, like the typical 5sos we’ve seen. Then, as we get towards the middle and end it gets deeper with slower cuts that make you have to wake up and actually think about the music you’re listening to. It was a very strategically put together album. And I love you Lukey Pookie!
Steph: As far as my love of emo punk bands go, 5sos fills that hole that’s been missing on the radio for years. We need guitars and songwriting just as much as we need a cheap Selena Gomez song. If there’s a band to bring that style back into the mainstream it may just be 5sos. They may not be the most polished band (yet), but they’ve got room to grow and continue to push their type of music on the radio. And you know me. It takes a lot for me to trust any new artist.