5 Seconds of Summer have gone on quite the musical journey in the last five years. The Australian pop band were initially primed to be the successors to One Direction’s boy-band throne, but soon, their pop-punk taste took over, and the group received co-signs from (and co-writes with) such luminaries of the genre as Good Charlotte’s Madden brothers and All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth. On their third album, last year’s Youngblood, 5SOS changed course again and grew up. Their sound was more akin to Imagine Dragons or mid-career Maroon 5: built for arenas and much more radio-friendly than the bratty pop-punk of before.
Now, it seems, the boys have gone goth. Their new single “Easier” culls inspiration from Nine Inch Nails’ industrial pop hit “Closer” and the dark synth-pop of Depeche Mode. It’s a gloom-and-doom heartbreak song that still shows off plenty of their usual hook-crafting skills. The added edge of their new sound is a promising sign, and it feels earned — this is a band that’s done its goth-pop homework. “Easier” is exactly the type of moody, sexy, grown-ass single you want from a group of evolved young punks in their twenties. Of course, there are still tinges of their boy-band past: The lyrics are all about love and hate, with (what else?) a too-beautiful paramour keeping them on their toes. This stuff is lovesick boy rock 101, and they’ve aced the class.
5SOS have told Rolling Stone that “Easier” is the first taste of their fourth album, which will likely arrive next year. Let’s hope they lean into some Echo & the Bunnymen, Cocteau Twins and Joy Division classics while they continue recording.