Welcome to the New Broken Scene

NBSAs you all may know, the sophomore release of 5 Seconds of Summer’s album occurred on Friday and I was able to witness the New Broken Scene in full force and full faith at Hollywood & Highland. Before I discuss track by track my perspective upon each song, I must preface my history with this band in particular.

In 2011, I was looking up YouTube covers of Ron Pope’s “A Drop In The Ocean” and came across a blonde haired boy with a promising but little shaky voice, his youtube name was hemmo1996 and that was my initial taste of 5SOS. Fast forward a year in 2012 and they came out with their EP, entitled “Somewhere New” and I was having a rough experience in my relationship at the time. The song “Unpredictable” was my escape and my comfort song during the times I felt ignored and invisible in the relationship that I so fervently fought for because it’s hard for me to quit anything really. Another year later, in 2013 I found myself going to a One Direction concert in Kentucky, but ended up loving this band even more instead of the main attraction. They energetically played “Try Hard” and my heart was elated by their goofiness and their stage presence. So in brief summations of it all, this band helped me through some emotionally dark times over the past three years, call me a fangirl or a young adult with a “questionable” taste in music, but nothing but immense pride for these four Australian gentleman is all I can emanate whilst watching their musical progression over the last four years.
I had been in a musical drought for quite some time, just listening to the crap on the radio, until 5SOS came out with their EP and I started engaging in their endeavors via Keek, Twitcam, Livestream etc. Although they were young, I connected with them because we had similar taste in music. That was when my love for pop-punk/emo revival/post-hardcore music reignited. I thank this band for promoting music that has meaning in their lyrics and for choosing to be transparent with their fans about why they love the music that they love; to help connect a constantly growing teenage fanbase with music that I loved (and still love) a decade ago.
I revisited all my old illegally burned CDs (it was the dawn of BearShare, Kazaa, and Napster at the time) and the nostalgia hit home for me. Listening to those old CD’s felt like an old friend that you’ve recently caught up with and nothing but great memories came out of it.
Fast forward to October 23, 2015 and Sounds Good Feels Good finally debuts after much building anticipation. To be honest, I was completely surprised by the sound change, a couple songs as a whole took some multiple takes to understand and love equally. Instead of listing each song and coming up with some mediocre summation, I’ll just list the ones that strongly resonated with me the most. This is mostly an emotive analysis and I’m getting a bit vulnerable here people, so take my perspective with compassion (also listed in no particular hierarchical order).
Hey Everybody: Every morning when I wake up at the ungodly hour of 5:00 am, I start and end my day with this song. It resonates with me at the moment because I’m currently sailing the high seas that is young professionalism and learning my place within the world. Money is a bit tight right now and listening to this song lets me know (in a light-hearted rhythmic way) that everything is going to be okay.
Fly Away: The first taste of this song was purely based on its melodic content. The upbeat tempo catered to my inner dancer and I couldn’t help but sway to it. Later on, I investigated the lyrics and I loved the imagery they captured. The contradicting sceneries of California with London sky actually appeals to me, because as much as I love a sunny California, I also love a cool overcast day complete with looming clouds. When I listen to this song, I can totally picture this on a road trip. That feeling of the inevitable unknown is a bit scary, but relinquishing at the same time.
Permanent Vacation: In the same pop punk valor as She’s Kinda Hot, Permanent Vacation rhythmically has a message about the status quo. With thought provoking lyrics found in the bridge such as “Congratulations your imitations are taking over the radio stations. Corporations, calculations. We’re the voice of a new generation.” this piece stood out to me because it starts this dialog of the meaning behind today’s contemporary pop music. It begs the question of whether artistic value is trumped over radio air play popularity in today’s music and I’m glad 5SOS are exploring this avenue, calling to attention that maybe we can have good songs on the radio with good melodies AND great lyrics.
Jet Black Heart: When this song made its debut, it took me a couple tries to really listen to the lyrics. I’m a victim of analysis paralysis and I wanted to know the depths of this song and become completely immersed with it. After much inner debacle, I love the darkness of this song. The proclamation that it’s “okay to not be okay” strongly relates with me in my current situation, but I highly believe that we must process these dark emotions we have in order to see the light. To come to revelation about how these dark times can make us stronger by showing us how resilient we can be as human beings. In addition, the lyric “the blood in my veins is made up of mistakes” is definitely one of my cherished lines because it reminds me of my favourite band The Used.
Catch Fire: Sonically, this song is very different for this band. I hear a lot more synth in the production of this song, but it works beautifully here. I intensely love a particular lyric in this song, and I might make it a permanent attribute to my physical body (if you can catch my drift) and it goes: “I can’t change the world, but maybe I’ll change your mind.” I emphatically relate to this lyric because I tend to soul search and make it my life aspiration to affect someone’s mind in a positive light. It has a very “coming of age” tone that I find magnetizing.
Vapor: This song has almost the same cadence as Catch Fire but the resounding similes throughout the song is what hit this one home for me. To me, this song describes the feeling of a deep first love. The kind of love that has a dark side, an addictive side, where we all succumb to its grasp in our life at one point or another. And again, in the second verse “Cause you know you got perfect aim, I wanna feel you in my veins” another strong The Used reference that makes me giddy with agreement. It’s an addicting song and I find myself singing it whenever I see pavement, someone smoking, or feeling the warmth of the sun.
Broken Home: I don’t necessarily come from a broken home, but I know many loved ones that do. I’ve seen a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of parental disputes and it’s scary, they weren’t even my parents, but seeing that look in another person’s eyes, the irrevocable sadness and isolation is gripping. This song is such a great vessel for adolescents dealing with divorce to find unity in. It’s a well written song with such emotive lyrics and vocals and a major reason why I love this band, thank you 5SOS for this musical piece of comfort.
Invisible: I love the simplicity of this song and how it’s not bombarded with too many musical elements. Amongst all the songs in the album, this song completes me lyrically & musically. With Michael saying “What was it?” and then the transition to the typewriter (which is one of my favorite sounds, subjectively) in my mind it’s the sound of forgetting, of not remembering. This song illustrates the mundane of everyday life, and how easily we all can fall into a routine that numbs us and derails us from spectacular moments; it exemplifies the portions of invisibility that we can all succumb to. The crescendo that occurs at 1:53 accompanied by epic orchestral strings as Calum sings the chorus an octave higher really elevates the pathos of this piece of music. In addition, the violin interlude at the end gives it that extra touch of intimacy. I give deep veneration to this song because it’s composition as a whole is positioned in an atmosphere of intense vulnerability and I love that.
San Francisco: The opening melody exemplifies a sense of uplifting nostalgia and it definitely sets the tone for the rest of the song. In similar fashion, this song lyrically contains imagery with same respect as Vapor. The lighthearted chords, feathery tambourine licks and the enchanting drum beat complete this idea of memory. A memory of being completely in the moment and remembering how sweet being young and spending time with someone whom captures your heart can feel so free.
Outer Space/ Carry On: In adjacency to “Invisible” this is also in my repertoire of most beloved songs in the album.  The orchestral opening and the sudden crescendo when the lyrics “the rain it came too soon, I will wait for you” is attention getting, then proceeds in its natural cadence. There’s a grace to the tempo of this song and the message behind this song reminds me a bit like my favourite fictional character, Holden Caulfield. Throughout the novel, Holden utilizes alienation as a form of self-protection, he admits he is an outsider, watching everything change and that’s what the lyric “nothing like the rain, when you’re in outer space” reminds me of. Watching something happen and you’re on the outskirts of it, but you desperately want to engage in that experience too. THEN when you think this song doesn’t get any more emotive, it transitions into another song, with a ocean interlude bisecting the two songs.
Comprehensively, this album is what I’ve been waiting for, for a long time and it did not disappoint. I appreciate how connective the album is, and the natural progression of the songs as they appear on the album. I can really feel the thoughtfulness put into this breadth of music. I deeply admire the subtle motifs that are disseminated throughout the songs. Elements such as blood/veins, islands/castaways/rain/oceans, the intimacy of night/darkness in contrast to sun/light/fire, the idea of brokenness/pieces, and concept of elusive memories. I can foreshadow strong advancement with 5SOS and I cannot wait what else they have for all of us in the 5SOSFam. Here we are, immersing ourselves into the New Broken Scene; it’s a beautiful place to be.
Catch Ya Later,
-Kathy
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