5 Seconds of Summer is not One Direction -- the Australian four-piece, despite being pals with the best-selling boy band, eschews 1D's pop focus and stresses the fact that they play their own instruments. However, 5 Seconds of Summer is also not Blink-182 or any other traditional "pop-punk" group -- at this point in the band's career, their songs and image carry way more sugar than spice, and the sneering edges have been sanded off to convey something family-friendly. Instead, 5 Seconds of Summer is a hybrid of the two musical ideas, a pop-punk act where the "pop" greatly outweighs the "punk" and the guitar riffs are plentiful but don't cut hard enough to have parents concerned. The band's aesthetic is actually pretty ingenious, inviting fans of both genres to come together, sing along to the pristine choruses and head-bang ever so slightly. It's no wonder that 5 Seconds of Summer is one of the biggest new artists in mainstream music.
With "5 Seconds of Summer," the group's self-titled debut album, 5SOS also declares itself one of pop's most promising new artists. Songs like "Don't Stop," "Good Girls," "18" and "Mrs. All American" flash the type of tight songwriting and lyrical wit that bodes well for the young artists' future, and the album's production, largely helmed by John Feldmann (former leader of Goldfinger), is clean and compact. The heart-torn ballads don't work quite as well, but album closer "Amnesia" connects with a maturity atypical of teenage performers. Best of all, "5 Seconds of Summer" does not include any grave missteps -- some tracks clearly stand out, but the 12-song collection is meant to be (and can be) digested as a proper album, after 5SOS' breakout "She Looks So Perfect" EP was released earlier this year.