Album Review: Fifth Harmony – ‘7/27’
A little more than a year ago, Fifth Harmony released a hodge-podge collection of tween jams, laced with a few hidden gems, as their debut album and faced many obstacles to overcome to earn credibility as the ultimate girl group.
It’s pretty astounding what two worldwide hits can do within the year. After ‘Worth It‘ caught everyone’s attention, these ladies went back in the studio to craft their sophomore album, ‘7/27‘.
What ‘Reflection‘ lacked, this new record makes up for entirely. It’s almost as if a new set of girls have taken the original line ups place. No longer is social media slang and dated lyrics running amuck. This time, Fifth Harmony has injected a little bit more soul into their music, found a sound that works, and said goodbye to the past as the move into the future.
Instead of trying every sound imaginable, 5H has taken comforting into jumping on be tropical house trend – a sound that works together for them as a unit.
From the start of the album to the very last second, we’re beaten over the head with their new sound. Sometimes it works, like with their record shattering #1 single, ‘Work From Home‘, and ‘Write On Me‘.
Other times, 5H make the trend their own. On ‘I Lied‘, the girls blur the lines between pop, R&B, and EDM. If they play their cards right, it could turn out to be a successful single…just like ‘All In My Head (Flex)’ acting as the perfect successor to ‘Work From Home‘.
What ‘Flex‘ will be great at is keeping Fifth Harmony on that upwards trend they’ve been riding since last spring. The tongue-in-cheek reggaeton-lite jam is the perfect summer, hook up song that’s begging to take over the airwaves. Dare we say this could be bigger than ‘Work From Home‘?
Still, just because the tropical sound works doesn’t mean it’s without flaw. On ‘Squeeze‘, a Kygo assisted lift can’t save this fivesome from crossing the lines into cheese. Same goes for ‘Gonna Get Better‘. While the chorus is one of the finest on the album and the maturity is a refreshing chance of pace from this group, it still has a little cringeworthy quality to it. Could it have been better if it focused more on the Spanish guitar from the intro?
And that’s really the main problem with ‘7/27‘. It relies too much on the trendy, tropical house sound to establish this group. Yes, it’s on trend and will get them hits. Yes, it brings out their strengths as a group and sounds effortlessly for them. Is that worth sacrificing diversity? ‘Reflection was all over the place’, but at least it had different shades of color. ‘7/27‘ is mostly one tone and gets weighed down by the characteristic.
There’s a lot of other moments on this record that we would have liked to see the girls play with more in order to change things up. One horn heavy track may have been enough, but there’s no denying that ‘That’s My Girl‘ is one of the album’s strongest moments. ‘Scared Of Happy‘ may sound out of place in the midst of a tropical wave, but it’s EDM post chorus breakdown was one of the most intriguing moments of the record. It would have been interesting to see what else they can do with a sound like that. And the New Jack Swing vibe on ‘Not That Kind Of Girl‘? So fresh! There’s so much sass and attitude dripping from this track. It makes you wonder why they couldn’t toss in one or two more songs like this on the record.
Despite its flaw of using tropical house as a crutch, ‘7/27‘ is a vast improvement from ‘Reflection‘. It’s mature, it’s cohesive, and it’s a step in the right direction for Fifth Harmony…if they really want it that is. There’s still some fine tuning and some growth to be done, but by disposing of held them down the first time and breaking free of those chains they’re finally on the road to international stardom. Hey, they might even really get to own the title of “biggest girl group in the world” sooner rather than later.