Dropping all of the rambunctious energy and emo-pop trappings that found them labeled a punk boy band when they first broke through while on tour with One Direction in 2013, Australia's 5 Seconds of Summer instead embrace a slick dance-pop sound on their third album, 2018's Youngblood. It's a transition they've been hinting at ever since their 2015 sophomore album, Sounds Good Feels Good. Even with that album's Good Charlotte collaborations, there was a generalized pop vibe throughout, and one that spoke to the unsustainable and largely flimsy "pop-punk" label. In truth, 5SOS have always been a pop entity first, with the spiky hair, power chords, and Warped Tour-ready brattitudes tagged on for show. So, the transition to a streamlined, post-EDM-flavored sound isn't really a shock, even if it's a notable shift. This time out, they've conscripted uber-producers like Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub (Avicii, the Vamps, Ellie Goulding), Sir Nolan (Fifth Harmony, Pitbull, Nick Jonas), and Watt (Post Malone, Justin Bieber) to help craft their hooky brand of dance-friendly anthems. Cuts like the opening title track, "Want You Back," and "Woke Up in Japan" are swooping, studio-savvy bangers, rife with finger-snap samples, dramatic piano riffs, and plenty of room for the band's vocals to take the spotlight. Elsewhere, tracks like "Lie to Me" and "Talk Fast" draw upon the springy guitar arpeggios and ersatz reggae intimations of '80s artists like the Police and Michael Jackson. It's a useful sound for 5SOS to embrace, and helps position them nicely as a lighter version of the 1975 or Imagine Dragons. While there are plenty of hooks here, the dancey pop attitude is matched by a growing maturity with lyrics about growing weary of the party scene, the emptiness of touring, and yearning for that one perfect love. All of which seems to fit a band, almost eight years into its career, whose original fans are just as likely to be filling out college applications as heading to Coachella. ~ Matt Collar
Rolling Stone - 3 stars out of 5 -- "YOUNGBLOOD goes full pop, leaning into some Eighties inflection and foregoing the bratty, DGAF ethos of their earlier work..."