There are some things that are so well made that you have to nod in appreciation – even if you don’t like them.
Guitar-wielding Australian boy band 5 Seconds of Summer have been crafted in a laboratory by Down Under Simon Cowell types to target that all-important tormented-tweenie pop pound. Their forensic campaign has been meticulous so far, with their recent One Direction world tour support powering their debut single She Looks So Perfect (complete with its references to American Apparel underwear) to number 1 here.
It has worked because 5 Seconds of Summer are slick, energetic, toothsome, tuneful… and utterly calculated. They are pop as a gateway drug, heartbreak-lite, with their 12 carefully calibrated mini-dramas about first love, growing pains and dizzy schools-out euphoria. At times, they make The Wanted sound like Joy Division.
Their template – like Busted, McFly and so many more – is to take Green Day’s buzzsaw power-pop, dumb it down and target it at deliriously hormonal early teens. It is puberty pop and it is eerily relentless. Kiss Me Kiss Me, with its soaring, carefully Glee-friendly chorus, finds singer Luke Hemmings yearning for his ‘teenage memories’. Fact: Luke Hemmings is 17 years old.
Like all charlatans of their ilk, they gasp and hyperventilate their way through bouncy anthems that simulate the ache of yearning and heartbreak while being terminally inauthentic. Everything I Didn’t Say melodiously trashes its room in the wake of a break-up; Beside You is a meticulously sanitised take on teenage lust; the fizzing End Up Here is an ode to adolescent infatuation that is streamlined to reverberate around the rafters of the world’s O2 arenas.
There are calculating, cynical middle-aged men behind it, of course, but ultimately bands like 5 Seconds of Summer are a teenage rite of passage to be filed along braces, acne and wet dreams. Don’t worry, kids: in years to come, you’ll look back and laugh.