Sophie Talbert

Ashton Irwin became the first member of Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer to release a solo project with the unexpected release of his album “Superbloom” on Oct. 23.

5 Seconds of Summer released their fourth studio album, “CALM,” on March 27 of this year. The group was scheduled to embark on their headlining world tour over the summer, but was postponed due to COVID-19. Irwin used this time to create his own solo project with his housemate, music producer Matt Pauling.

Despite a solo release from Irwin, there is no tension with the other members of 5 Seconds of Summer. 

“I’ve always wanted to make a solo record, and so had everybody else in 5 Seconds of Summer,” Irwin stated in a recent interview with Rolling Stone Australia. “We’ve always publicly talked about it, we’ve always confronted each other, and we always knew that each one of us is a very different artist.” 

The lead single from “Superbloom” was “Skinny Skinny,” which demonstrated that Irwin’s solo work would differ from the pop sound expected of him. The stripped down, folk-inspired rock song explores uncomfortable topics such as body dysmorphia and mental health. The mature and deeply personal lyrics establish Irwin as a strong and introspective songwriter.

The rest of the album lives up to the precedent Irwin set for himself with his lead single. He sings about his struggles with depression and anxiety on “The Sweetness,” and challenges with sobriety on “Matter of Time.” Irwin continues to be vulnerable throughout the album, with the overarching theme of finding hope throughout hard times. 

“Superbloom” was met with commercial success and generally positive reviews from critics. 

In a review for “Spin,” Liza Lentini states that the album “is a bright lotus in a mud pile of a year.” Influenced by a wide array of artists including the Foo Fighters and My Bloody Valentine, “There’s a nod to ’90s grunge, but Ash has managed, against all odds, to reinvent a sound you think you know into something new and distinctly his own,” Lentini said. “The result is a melodic tapestry of decades-past influences, something you can’t quite put your finger on, and the delight is in the discovery.”

Irwin’s bold solo debut is available now.

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