For its sophomore album, Sydney quartet 5 Seconds of Summer tasked itself with resolving the “boy band vs. rock band” conflict that has plagued the group since it became a superstar by touring with One Direction. Sounds Good Feels Good needed to edge toward more mature content, said standard wisdom, but without alienating the band’s predominantly teen female fans. Within that arguably dubious dichotomy, it mostly succeeds.
The first sounds are a guitar tuning and studio chatter, a certificate of working-band authenticity. The set cuts down on lyrics about crushes for themes of generational anxiety and solidarity that seem partly inspired by their fellow antipodean, Lorde, as on rousing singles “She’s Kinda Hot” and “Hey Everybody.” But ironically, its primary rock template is inspired by bands once teased for being “mall punk”: Blink-182 and particularly Good Charlotte, whose members contribute to the songwriting here.