Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Super bloom - Ashton Irwin - album review

Ashton Irwin who is probably best know for being one quarter of 5 Seconds of Summer, in particular the incredibly skilled and talented drummer of the band. But Irwin has decided to step out from behind the drums and take centre stage with his new solo project. 

Fans of 5SOS have always longed for more vocals from Irwin and through the bands progression he began to feature vocally on songs through the years; but now fans have been given a full album of just Irwin’s solo vocals and his own personal sound experience. 

The album opens with the song Scar which opens with an almost angelic electronic harp sound before beginning with the lyric ‘got me wishing God would show me the way, show me heaven maybe just for a day’ which further enhances the angelic and almost spiritual opening sound. The song itself is a focus of the vocals and accompanying drums which feels like a fitting introduction to Irwin’s debut solo project with the focus on the drums being what Irwin is known best for, and then the vocal focus to show that drums are not his only talent and to open the listeners mind and prepare them for the album. 

The album then moves on to song two Have U Found What Ur Looking For? which opens with an almost old school 90’s/00’s style vibe with the addition of indie style guitar. The song itself feels like it was born from a place of pain with lyrics such as ‘who could love me, if I give you my soul’, ‘won’t someone show me the way’ and ‘have you found what you’re looking for’ they all feel like cries of help and pain from someone who is trying to find love and hope and just needs someone to help him instead of being left alone. When the lyrics are combined with the sound, it makes this track into a real powerhouse of a song demonstrating not only the emotions of Irwin but also his vocal talent and vocal power that makes you sit up and listen. 

Up next on the album is Skinny Skinny which was also the debut single release from Irwin and the album, a song that I looked deeper at in another article which you can check out by following the link at the end of the article. 

Greyhound is the follow on from Skinny Skinny and it’s introduction has a similar sound to the previous song and a similar feel to it in terms of the emotional turmoil represented. The lyrics ‘run greyhound run’ and ‘run out the rabbit, it stains my teeth’ feel like an interesting use of metaphor; with Irwin being the greyhound and the rabbit is his demons and the voices in his mind as he tries to outrun the darkness and the pain. 

Although the song does have the dark side to it, there is also a feeling of support and hope within the song. The repetition of the lyric ‘run greyhound run, run out the rabbit’ is almost like a mantra and a quote to live by and go back to. For when times are hard and you feel like you’ve got nothing left or feel like you’ve been beaten by the world, you can hear those words in your head and it’s an encouragement; it feels like there is someone on your side spurring you on and cheering for you to keep going and keep pushing to beat the rabbit in whatever form that may be for you. The song has the power and the sound to illicit the energy and the power in the listener; it feels like the song provides you with a moment to recharge and shares its power with you to give you that push to keep going, and it’s the helping hand that says you can do this you can get back on track. 

The album then introduces Matter of Time (interlude) and it feels fitting as the interlude because its combination of guitar and orchestral elements feel like a momentary break in the album. It’s a moment to breathe, you get to step back and let your mind take a moment to process the things that are going on. It’s a song to be able to relax to, it provides you with a moment of solace for your mind and body; you can just close your eyes and step away from the world for a little while and just be in the moment of the song. 

This is then followed by the song Sunshine which feels like a gentle return to the album from the interlude with the orchestral opening to the song which is almost lucid in its sound. It’s very much an embodiment of its title because the song conjures images of sunshine and brightness and that almost euphoric feeling you get when you just close your eyes and bask in the sunshine. The song feels like the warmth of the suns rays on your skin and that out of body style feeling you have when you just allow yourself to soak up the sun and drift away from reality for a moment. The song is a feel good positive hit with its electronic sounds layered over the orchestral and acoustic undertones. 

The Sweetness has an electronic opening that builds up to set this feeling of intensity and power before dropping to a relaxed tone at the beginning of the first verse. But the song is filled with ups and downs of sound with the intense built up powerful moments of the choruses which are interspersed with the calmer and quieter sounds of the verse. The song feels like both an embodiment and a contrast of its title in that there is a certain sweet serenity and calmness within the verses of the song with Irwin’s soft vocals and the simplistic gentleness in the sound. But then the chorus ramps up into the heavy cacophony of sound which contrasts the sweet and gentle verse sound. The rollercoaster of sound feels like a representation of the internal thoughts and feelings of the mind and the struggles of mental health with the loud and heavy rock moments acting as the overactive mind and the overwhelming sensation that comes with it; then the gentler moments in the song being the moments of peace and stillness when your mind has its moments of reprieve and break in chaos to breathe and be calm. 

This is then followed by I’m to Blame which dives in straight from the start, there is no steady build it goes straight in musically from the get go. It feels like a song you’d expect to hear in a film or a tv series with the power and the beat behind it. It feels like a song that was made to tell a story; it’s a song that you can feel, it elicits a reaction and with its soundtrack style feel it has you on the edge of your seat with its exciting and engaging sound. This song is one you can already picture yourself using as a backdrop to the stories of your imagination and for the daydreamers out there it’s a ready made soundtrack for your thoughts. There’s something almost addictive about the song, it’s something you want to play on repeat, as you spend time inside your mind. 

Drive had a slightly more old school feel to it and with the muffled background drum beat in the early part of the song it gives the feeling of being outside listening in. The song embodies its title because it feels like a ‘driving song’ or a song to listen to whilst travelling; be it cranked up through the car radio or turned up loud through your headphones, it’s a song to tune out the world to. Drive sounds how travelling feels, it has that detached feeling that comes with travelling where you’re not quite tuned in to reality but you’re also not fully detached from the world and it’s going on either. The out of body style experience you get from travelling is embodied in the songs sounds and it’s the perfect travelling companion or even just a song to listen to if you want to just escape from reality for a little while. 

The album closes with an interesting choice in the form of Perfect Lie which opens with an almost dark and trip like feel to its sound, it feels like the sound you’d hear at a dark and twisted circus style setting. When combined with the lyrics ‘everybody fakes it ‘til they make it’ and ‘everybody loves it ‘til they hate it’ there is an amping up of the darker vibes with an almost anger towards the world. With its lyrics and it’s sound, the song is filled with contrast because the darker lyrics of the sound don’t seem to fit the sound as it goes on; the sound begins to transform from the darker introduction into a more psychedelic sound. 

The sounds leaves you expecting to see swirling psychedelic spinning wheels of colour in bright varying colours and patterns due to the trip like sensations the song induces. After the song finished, there is 27 seconds that change from the songs majority sound to a more simplistic sound that feels more like a prelude to something which could potentially be a suggestion of more to come from Irwin. However, the sudden change of pace in the final moments of the song also leave the listener feeling like the song before it was a dream like experience that was conjured in your mind, and then suddenly you’re being brought back to reality or being woken up from this trance like state that had been induced by the song which feels quite fitting to end the album on by bringing the reader back to reality from their musical experience.

Irwin has ultimately created an album that lays his soul bare for anyone to see or rather hear; and he has demonstrated an immense strength in displaying his vulnerability to the world but I think it’s a choice that listeners are incredibly grateful for because he’s taken his vulnerability and his life experiences and battles and turned them into something beautiful. He’s created a musical experience that invites the listeners into his mind, body and soul, an experience that allows people a deeper connection with the musician himself. 

Irwin’s decision to create this album and ability to create this album is something that should be applauded and appreciated because in displaying his own vulnerabilities he has created something that will help a whole new generation of people to heal theirs. 

Ashton Irwin - Skinny Skinny single review 

- Georgina Shine 


Image: Ashton Irwin - Superbloom

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