Music Reviews: The Latest From 5 Seconds of Summer, Common, La Roux and More

Which albums should you be listening to this weekend?

ByAllan Raible
July 27, 2014, 6:22 AM
PHOTO: Common is pictured on June 29, 2014 in Los Angeles.
Common is pictured on June 29, 2014 in Los Angeles.
Mark Sullivan/Getty Images

— -- intro: This week, Australian boy-band sensation 5 Seconds Of Summer drop their full-length debut, Common drops his pointed and driven tenth studio album, Electro-act La Roux makes a return after a four-year absence, the Raveonettes drop a surprise album, Mike Doughty explores his Soul Coughing material once more, Dan the Automator teams up with actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Got A Girl and Canadian indie rockers Alvvays make an inspired debut. It’s yet another inspired and diverse week and there is a lot to dig into and discuss.

quicklist: 1title: 5 Seconds Of Summer’s “5 Seconds Of Summer.” **text: As much as they parade themselves as a rock band, 5 Seconds of Summer are simply a guitar-soaked Australian answer to One Direction. Some have tried to call this music “pop-punk,” but this is merely your typical boy-band fare with a layer of guitar placed loudly enough in the mix to obscure the vocals.

The amp levels shouldn’t fool you. These songs are tired anthems about summers that never end and girls who don’t know they are attractive. There are plenty of “Whoa! Whoa! Whoas!” and “Hey! Hey! Heys!” added for good measure as the boys croon about wanting to be older and making their loves stay. In other words, these are naïve love songs that sound factory-written to contain as many buzz-words as possible to drive the young women in their audience mad. The cynic in me even wonders if the name-checking of “American Apparel” in opener “She Looks So Perfect” is merely a lyrical choice or carefully targeted example of product-placement.

Yes, these songs do have a catchy quality, but it is in the most sugary and irksome way. To their credit, the members of the band are listed among the writers of their songs, but still there is something soulless and pinpointed about their approach. If this is “pop-punk,” it makes Green Day and Blink 182 come off in comparison like Minor Threat.

Most of the group’s fans are no doubt on the young side and just finding their own sense of musical taste. 5 Seconds of Summer should only be viewed as a stop-gap for fans before they discover the real thing. Until an older sibling passes down to them a copy of “Dookie” this will sadly seem legit to them. There’s nothing authentic or lasting here.

Focus Tracks:

“Everything I Didn’t Say” This goes for everything at once. The Bastille-like bellows at the beginning, the sensitive “boy-band” lovelorn tone and the big anthemic chorus will all add up to pop gold.

“Long Way Home” This song kind of succeeds even if it tries a little too hard. It works with a formula that Eve 6 did better and more intelligently on their album “Horrorscope,” but at the same time, its nostalgic lyrics, strong production and large chorus work in its favor.

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