ⓘ Calm, album. Calm is the fourth studio album by Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer, released on 27 March 2020. Due to a shipping error, around 10.000 ..


ⓘ Calm (album)

Calm is the fourth studio album by Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer, released on 27 March 2020. Due to a shipping error, around 10.000 copies of the album were released early in the US, subsequently allowing the album to chart a week before it was due.

Prior to the albums release, the band released a four-track "Relaxation" remix collection via the meditation app, Calm. The collection features each bandmember reimagining a different track off the album in collaboration with producer Matt Pauling: guitarist Michael Clifford on "Easier", bassist Calum Hood on "Old Me", drummer Ashton Irwin on "Red Desert", and guitarist and vocalist Luke Hemmings on "Best Years".


1. Promotion

The album was announced on the bands social media on 5 February 2020. A few days earlier, the band also confirmed that they will embark on the No Shame Tour to support the album, set to kick off in May 2020.

The promotion of the album was heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the stay-at-home order, which forced the band to cancel promotional appearances and concerts. Instead, the band members did a number of radio and TV interviews over phone or videocall and resorted to interacting with fans online via live streams and Q&As on Twitter. On 26 March 2020, Hemmings peformed an acoustic version of "Old Me" on the "At Home Edition" of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.


2. Background and inspiration

The band were inspired by a lot of industrial music whilst working on the album, which helped them achieve a "rhythm side" on the songs, and in turn lends to the melodic writing and the melodic process. Drummer Ashton Irwin explained: "As far as sonic inspirations go, we always try to incorporate some of what everyone is actually listening to so its a more genuine and influenced record that we can speak on." The album contains a "lighter" sound in comparison to the bands previous work. Lead vocalist Luke Hemmings said he felt 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". The bands bassist Calum Hood said most of the credit is owed to Hemmings, whose lyrics, Hood said, "tell the tale of a man who has matured over the years and who has really honed in on his craft". Hood, however, noted: "I think everyone had something to say with this album, in terms of their coming of age - in really reflecting on the people who we were and how things shaped us, and who we want to become in the future." He futher described the album as "pretty chaotic at times".

Unlike previous 5 Seconds of Summer albums, Calm features Luke Hemmings as sole lead vocalist on all but one track, "Wildflower", which is sung by Calum Hood.


3. Music and composition

Amelia Parreira of Riff magazine summarized the album, saying 5 Seconds of Summer bring forth a "new musical density and electrifying nuance on Calm, with a misleading name for a body of work that is anything but sonically mellow". The albums opening track, the "groovy, anthemic" "Red Desert" hinges on psychedelia, with the "gospel-like vocals" of Luke Hemmings. The song contains light bass vibration from bassist Calum Hood. The songs theme is about "contentment and falling in love", which Parreira noted sets the albums tone. Track 2, "No Shame" features a "retro 80s pop vibe", layered with "explosive instrumentals over meaningful lyrics and raw stories". Hemmings delivers high notes on the song. "Old Me", lyrically reflects on past mistakes, and is a high-energy "dance anthem". "Easier", released as the albums lead single, has a conversational tone, with "mellow" electro instrumentation. Second single "Teeth", is a grungy, rock-tinged song, with an energetic, catchy chorus. Wildflower", similarly to "No Shame", is reminiscent of 80s pop, consisting of a "Beach Boys-like vocal chant before a rise in bass and synth undertones set a romantic tone on the verses". "Best Years" move at a slower pace, albeit containing a "danceable vibe". The piano-led "Lover of Mine" features intertwining guitar strumming patterns and "powerful vocal styles". "Thin White Lies" is an "angst-ridden" dance-esque track, with "strong electric beats". The album concludes with the slow-burner "Lonely Heart" and the self-reflcetive "High", both ballads, with slightly energetic production, marking a "calm end" to the album.


4. Singles

The albums lead single, "Easier", was released via Interscope on 23 May 2019. The second single, "Teeth" was released on 21 August 2019 and was also included in the 13 Reasons Why: Season 3 Music from the Original TV Series soundtrack. "No Shame" was released as the third single on 5 February 2020, alongside the album announcement. "Old Me", originally released on 21 February 2020 as the first promotional single from the album, was released to radio on 6 March 2020 as the albums fourth single. "Wildflower" was released as the albums fifth single on 25 March 2020.


5. Critical reception

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, Calm received an average score of 70, based on five reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Album of the Year assessed the critical consensus as a 70 out of 100.

Billboard called the album, "an accomplished exploration of the groups expanding palette" and praised the band for their ability to "expertly synthesize their influences into fresh-feeling gems". Malvika Padin of Gigwise gave the album a positive review, writing: "despite that niggling urge to skip the odd mediocre track, the desire to play beauties like High on loop wins in the end and Calm stands on a pedestal of near-perfection pop". Padin noted how the album is "split into two distinct, yet cohesive, sections of music that are authentically 5SOS" and labeled the album "a look into the journey of four young boys growing up and getting pulled into the addictive power of fame". An auspOp music critic wrote "the title gives away the general feel of this album – personal and a bit more subdued" and found the album "takes a melodic approach, but is no less engaging or listenable." Matt Collar, writing for AllMusic, called the album "the sound of a band whose influences have continued to evolve right along with them and their fans" while naming the group "a sophisticated pop outfit." Zoya Raza-Sheikh of Clash opined that their latest effort is "by no means perfect, but the album is a testament to their growth." Sophia Simon-Bashall from The Line of Best Fit gave the album a positive review, stating that "Australias premier boy-band prove themselves worthy pop stars on their next step forward." Bashall continued, stating that Calm is "a perfect pop record, from start to finish - theres not a single filler track, each is distinctive and shows off the bands impressive range."


6. Commercial performance

Calm debuted atop the Australian ARIA Albums Chart, and thus became the bands fourth consecutive album to debut at number-one in their home country. The album also debuted atop the UK Albums Chart, earning first week sales of 34.940 units and becoming their second number-one album in the country and first since the release of Sounds Good Feels Good.

Due to a shipping error, 11.000 copies were released early in the US, causing Calm to debut a week early at number 62 on the Billboard 200, before ascending to number two in its second week, marking the bands fifth top 10 album. In its second week, it earned 133.000 album-equivalent units, including 113.000 pure album sales, making it the best-selling album of the week. It was kept from the number-one spot by The Weeknds After Hours by 5.000 units. The fact that the album would have been number-one if it hadnt mistakenly been released a week early, sparked outrage among the bands fans with hashtags such as #BillboardCountThe10k trending on Twitter and the creation of a petition with more than 30.000 signatures. Several radio stations like Sirius XM Hits 1 and radio hosts like Elvis Duran, also voiced their support for the band either on-air or on Twitter. However, according to Billboard, their policy is to reflect album sale activity in the tracking week that the paying customer receives an album.