Isabella Ambrosio discusses the shock and awe of Ashton Irwin’s ‘Superbloom’
Ashton Irwin, the drummer for 5 Seconds of Summer, debuted his solo album on the 23rd of October. He shocked fans by announcing a solo project last month, and the content that followed was so complex and intriguing that it begs to be unpacked by whoever listens to it. Irwin bares his soul and inner psyche as he writes about issues with mental health, medications, addiction, and growing up, weaving a vivid and real tale of struggling and healing. He compliments the topics with a complete genre-mash array of instrumentals that create perplexing sounds- Irwin infuses Superbloom with psychedelic rock, grunge, and classic rock, while mixed with a beautiful set of strings, harmonies, and melodic choruses. It feels as if Irwin didn’t want to take his music down a single path, but build a bridge between many and make them harmonious.
The lyrics reveal Irwin’s inner psyche as he discusses the cruelty that can come with life in “SCAR”: “It’s a painful thing to try, grit your teeth another time / When the world leaves a scar”. It’s a note of perseverance, resilience, and strength, but there’s an exposure to Irwin’s vulnerability as a human who has been treated poorly by circumstances. He dives even deeper into a triggering topic - eating disorders. Irwin writes candidly about body dysmorphia and purging on the track “Skinny Skinny” with vivid, graphic lyrics that could be too much for some listeners: “I’m skin and bon?, I'm made of nothing / My secret pose, my secret ending / You tear me up all of the time / My tongue is tasteless, my heart is barren / My fingers stretching into my larynx”. Irwin explained that he wanted to write a track about “not feeling at home in your own body.” Irwin’s repertoire of sensitive topics continues through songs like “Greyhound”, “The Sweetness” and “I’m to Blame”, but he makes sure to balance the heavy tracks with lyrics of optimism, hope, and comfort in “Drive” and “Matter of Time (Interlude)”.
5 Seconds of Summer has always played with genre and experimented with different sounds, and Ashton Irwin has taken that idea and has absolutely blown past it. Incorporating instruments that sound like either an erhu or a mandolin, and using it throughout tracks that have grunge-esque guitars and 90s solos, elements of folk and acoustic persist in the background of each. This genre-clash of an album makes as much sense as that description does but in the best way possible. The number of experimental elements throughout the album shine and work well together. The most impressive nature of this album is not only the fact that Irwin includes all of these genres and elements, but makes them work. It’s a melodious blend of genre with beautiful vocals that make you wonder how Irwin’s day-job takes place behind a drum-kit.
Superbloom is a super-bloom of genre, elements, emotions, and inner turmoil that have been delicately placed and thought out in passionate melodies and raw lyrics. Whether or not you’re a fan of 5 Seconds of Summer, Ashton Irwin’s debut album is one worth giving a listen, a save, and maybe even a second listen. I have listened to it nearly non-stop since its release.