Ashton Irwin of 5SOS bares his soul in Superbloom, his first solo album


by Juliette Ciullo
**Warning: this article mentions serious content pertaining to body image and mental health*
While soothing strums of the guitar pervades the 5 Seconds of Summer songwriter and drummer Ashton Irwin’s first solo album Superbloom, the classic punkier tones of the band 5SOS are still reminiscent throughout the album. Although he did work independently on this 10-song album, fans of 5SOS need not worry, he is still a present member of the band, in fact, they released their new album CALM earlier this year. 
Possibly functioning as a symbolic as well as production choice, Irwin employed underwater sounding vocals on a handful of songs, especially “Sunshine.” When the album released Oct. 23, 2020 I was quickly impressed with his deep, strong vocals, as I haven’t really had the opportunity to explore his band’s music before, so his sounds were new to me. 
I think it pertinent to mention that Superbloom is a rare desert phenomenon in which an unusually massive amount of flowers blossom at the same time. It tends to occur roughly once every decade, primarily in climates like California’s deserts. However, in an odd turn of events, Superbloom was seen in 2019 and 2017. 
“Skinny Skinny,” the first released single and self-directed music video, is a clear standout on the album. It also marks the first time Irwin discussed his body dysmorphia, self-harm, and eating disorder in a creative form. His poignantly vulnerable lyrics shed light on the reality of having body image issues that are not often shared, particularly for men. His video entails an emotionally-charged choreographed contemporary dance, accompanied with words white-lined and drawings further depicting the inner torment he and many others have endured. Throughout the album, he also touches on his experiences with anxiety, addiction, and depression. 
Irwin posted on a YouTube comment underneath the video: “…I wanted to capture what it feels like to struggle not feeling at home in your own body.” Ashton Irwin said. “This is a video of battle, footage of the fight, a snapshot of resilience. I hope you find this video empowering.” 
Although I enjoyed the louder punk rock aspects of this album, the softer songs piqued my interest. I immediately loved the song “Matter of time (Interlude)” despite it being the shortest song on the album. It’s uplifting, meant to encourage people to embrace the temporary feelings of happiness and sadness to their benefit. Either way, one’s current situation will change. If it’s an unpleasant one, keep this in mind and don’t succumb to despair. If you’re immersed in ideal circumstances, cherish it. 
Note the lines: 
When the roses bloom and the record don’t scratch
Close your eyes don’t you ever look back 
Its sweet, ethereal melody is rather entrancing and fits perfectly as the exact middle of the album. 
Some songs, I concede, I didn’t despise, but I didn’t think much about them either. They weren’t of poor quality, but were fairly underwhelming instrumentally, at least in my perspective. 
Overall, the meaning and themes of the album certainly shine here, even when the music itself falters. It’s clear to see Irwin is talented in endless facets, whether it be singing, songwriting, playing the drums or guitar, dancing, or directing.