By Leighah Beausoleil
Ashton Irwin, drummer of the Australian pop-punk band 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS), released his first solo album, “Superbloom,” Oct. 23.
Flowing smoothly from track-to-track, the album’s 10 songs focus on Irwin’s long-fought battle with mental illness.
Irwin began working on his album in February, and announced the surprise album’s existence in late September when he released the first single, “Skinny Skinny.”
The next day Irwin premiered the song’s music video.
The song focuses on Irwin’s struggle with body dysmorphia. The lyrics, “I wanna eat, I wanna stay thin / I wanna dance but I gotta stay in,” demonstrates the back-and-forth struggle of wanting to live his life, but constantly being held back by this mental illness.
After listening to this first song, it was clear to many long-time 5SOS fans this album was going to be quite personal.
The music video depicts Irwin dancing in front of a row of mirrors that portray distorted images of him.
To many fans’ surprise, no drums are present in this song. The track is mainly composed of an acoustic guitar accompanied by background vocals. An electric guitar joins in halfway, and toward the end is heard only as a blaring strum that interrupts the gentle, consistent acoustic.
In the music video, as these strums ring out, Irwin takes a sledgehammer to the mirrors breaking each and every one.
“Superbloom” opens with the track titled “Scar” that is about Irwin’s family. His mother, younger brother, and sister are all mentioned in the song.
The message of the track is when the world is dark and unforgiving, family will be there to help you, and, as a unit, move forward and better one another. This is shown throughout the song when Irwin asks, “Can you help me be a better man?”
As the opening track, the song has an peculiar and strong introduction that not only pulls listeners in, but the soon accompanying lyrics gives them a reason to stay.
The sixth track, “Sunshine,” is hands down the best on the album. Having an orchestra feel to it, the song features string instruments that give it a different sound which stands out beautifully on the project.
As one of the more positive songs on the album, it emphasizes the importance of appreciating the smaller things in life. This is shown in the lyrics, “Not just today / Not just tomorrow / But now for forever and ever / See the sunshine.”
On the day of the album’s release, Irwin hosted an Instagram Live in which he explained the background and meaning to some of his songs. Discussing “Sunshine,” he encouraged people to “enjoy the simplistic nature of your human existence,” and practice self-care.
On this same Instagram Live, Irwin gave an interesting backstory to the song “Greyhound.” He said when he was a kid, he helped out a man who ran greyhound races. He explained when a greyhound didn’t place they weren’t allowed to race again.
The greyhound race in the song serves as a metaphor for how people will work themselves to death, he said. “When you catch that fake rabbit as a greyhound, … what do you really win?”
This song encourages listeners to allow themselves some self-reflection on their actions and what they hope to get out of life.
Not only does this song have a strong message, but its sound is well developed and leaves the listener satisfied.
Although many of the tracks on this album are well composed and exquisitely written, one of the weaker songs is “The Sweetness.”
The track feels incomplete and not nearly as polished as the rest of the project. It’s safe to say the album could have done without it.
But despite this weak link, many listeners can surely resonate with the battle Irwin describes and will find comfort in its lyrics and sound.
Irwin released “Superbloom: A Live Concert Film” on YoutTube Oct. 30.
The film – which fans can still watch for free on the platform – features Irwin’s band, “The A i Supergroup,” playing a variety of instruments.
This virtual performance provides fans with a whole new listening experience that only gets better and better.
Irwin proves himself to be more than just a drummer.