Ashton Irwin 'Superbloom' - Album Review

With 2020 being the way it is, it has allowed bands and band members to step out of their comfort zones and release different projects. This includes Ashton Irwin (drummer of 5 Seconds of Summer), who just released his debut solo album titled 'Superbloom.' Ashton explained in an Instagram post; "The album title SUPERBLOOM lasted the WHOLE process. I came up with the title alongside the first song we made. It sounded to me like my favourite 90's record that never existed." 'Superbloom' shows a more vulnerable Ashton side that fans of 5SOS have not been exposed to before. With themes of eating disorders, mental health and love, it shows that everyone deals with similar situations in their lives, and you are not alone. There is something on this album for everyone.

The album begins with 'SCAR,' which was the third and final promo single to be released. The song focuses on Ashton's struggles with depression. In the second verse, he references his mother, with who Ashton has a close relationship, significantly since she raised Ashton as a single parent, and he was the one to help her take care of his younger siblings. The third and fifth verses also mention his siblings. The first sibling he references is his sister Lauren. Ashton has stated she has helped him through tough times and has supported him since the beginning, and loves her. The next verse is for his brother Harry in which Ashton says he speaks to every day and hopes that he can help him grow into a better man. 'SCAR' is an excellent example of the 90's rock that inspired the whole album! (It even has a bit of harp in it!) 

The album continues with its 90's rock-inspired sound for the next songs. 'Have You Found What You're Looking For' and 'Skinny Skinny' contain that grungy guitar that was popular back in the late '90s? Ashton does what he does best with the drums on 'Have You Found What You're Looking For' and harmonizes with himself, showing off his vocal range that fans have waited so long to hear, especially during the bridge where Ashton holds the notes for a lengthy duration of time. 

'Skinny Skinny' is more on the grungier side with an intro consisting of palm muting on an acoustic guitar, which sounds similar to the Nirvana classic 'All Apologies.'  The first single released, 'Skinny Skinny,' focuses on eating disorders and the struggle of not feeling like you belong in your body. Ashton explains how he did not feel comfortable in his body, which caused him to suffer from an eating disorder (probably bulimia).  Indicated in the post-chorus with the lyrics "I wanna eat, I wanna stay thin," as well as the lyrics "My fingers stretching into my larynx" in the second verse. This song is an excellent example of how even men can suffer from body image issues, and this was Ashton's way of educating others on a sometimes taboo topic. 

The cruel treatment inspired the next track titled 'Greyhound.' Ashton witnessed what greyhound racing dogs would endure before their races and if they did not place in the top three when he worked at a racing business.  A heavier song musically and lyrically, when you know the origins of the track, you can begin to imagine the lyrics coming from the dog's point of view. 'Greyhound' is the song you think of when someone mentions rock. From the bass to the guitar solo after the bridge, to the vocals, rock is the genre that Ashton's voice was made for. 

Halfway through the record, we reach an interlude appropriately titled 'Matter of Time.' Featuring cellos and other string instruments, this two minute almost ballad is a reminder to the listeners that even though you might be struggling with something at a point in your life, there is still time for things to get better, and they will. So do not give up because you won't always feel this way, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

'Sunshine' is a song that seems appropriate to how the world is at the current moment. In this song, Ashton describes how he is upset at society's way but should always look for the sunshine to distract yourself from all the negativity. Also featuring cellos, but with just a faster tempo, 'Sunshine' is the perfect transition from the previous interlude. Using a 3/4 timing, same as the Waltz, the music sounds just like what you would think of when you think about sunshine, and you can even picture yourself sitting on a sunny mountain top admiring the view!

Bringing back the synthesizers and powerful drum beats, we reach probably the loudest and darkest song on the entire album. 'The Sweetness' is referencing the happy thoughts in Ashton's head that are overpowering the demons that also live inside him. The lyrics are very repetitive, which in this case works well with the theme of the song. When you go through depression, your emotions kind of go in waves. One second you are having all these evil thoughts (the darkness), and then the next thing you know, you start to feel like yourself again (the sweetness), and the cycle continues non stop. As the song concludes, you are greeted with a creepy sounding voice. The voice is likely representing the darkness and how it is still there and always waiting to creep back into your head again.

Not your typical breakup song, 'I'm To Blame', doesn't focus on the relationship's negatives. Still, more of Ashton admitting that he blames himself for the relationship ending but then explains that it isn't a negative thing that the relationship ended, as it helped both of them find their right paths in life. Once again, Ashton shows off his vocal range and unique drumming abilities that we all love him for.

Possibly one of the more personal songs on Superbloom, 'Drive,' is a song Ashton wrote for his girlfriend who's dad passed away, and Ashton was with here while she was experiencing this terrible loss in her life. The song's main idea is learning how to process your grief and have someone help you through it rather than letting it become this thing that completely blinds you. The way Ashton thought of helping his girlfriend with her grief was to take her for a drive around California since there are plenty of lookouts and places to drive away from the city and help you clear your thoughts where they can sit in private and talk about anything you need to get off your chest. Just taking a drive and being there for someone while dealing with something is sometimes all that person needs to feel better. 

Finally, we reach the final song titled 'Perfect Lie.' Opening with a synth and an electronic voice effect creating a futuristic tone to the music. In an Instagram live, Ashton explained that this song's idea stemmed from old songs he and the boys in 5sos wrote when starting as a band. The whole piece is Ashton saying how he loved the songs he wrote with the band at the time, but as they all got older, he began to fall out of love with certain songs even if these songs brought them to where they are now. The lyric "I'll try to love without hating you" is a nod to those older songs with Ashton saying that he wants to stop hating on the type of music he released at a different time in his life. He also mentions how some of their most popular songs are breakup songs, and now that those are the band's most famous songs, they are forced in a sense to play them every night, bringing them back to the mindset they had when they originally released the songs rather than moving on from once was. 

In the end, 'Superbloom' is a fantastic album for a first-time solo artist! You can tell with each song that Ashton put his entire heart and soul into them. This album is a great way to see a more vulnerable side of him that many fans may not have known before. 'Superbloom' is not the album you think of when someone says 5sos, but Ashton has successfully made an album that shows a different music style that would not necessarily work for his band. Ashton is an inspiration for other artists that want to make a side project who may be too scared to do so, but without 'Superbloom,' nobody may have ever known what Ashton was capable of creating! You can listen to 'Superbloom' for yourself on any streaming service, and be sure to follow Ashton on his social media to be kept up to date with him and his music!