Album review: Ashton Irwin – Superbloom

Gemma Rooster

Ashton Irwin had a phenomenal career as the drummer for the Australian pop-rock quartet 5 Seconds of Summer, but releasing a solo album was always at the back of his mind. The lockdown ended with a completely empty schedule, so it was the perfect time for this solo album to become a reality, in the form of “Superbloom.”

Made in its entirety in his LA home with producer and roommate Matt Pauling, the album explores Irwin’s inner philosophies about life. He draws his influence from his wide range of musical interests including: Foo Fighters, Nick Drake, Helmet, Silverchair, Stone Temple Pilots, My Bloody Valentine and Curve. The lyrical subjects range from childhood and youth to alcoholism, depression, death, body dysmorphia and drug addiction.

The album strikes a balance between despair and hope – it’s an immensely personal record, made up of “songs that could not be sung by anyone else” but by Irwin himself. He states that he “had to reach a certain level of maturity in order to write” songs on subjects close to his heart, and that the songwriting process was for him a means of catharsis – a “liberating and” experience. inspiring ”.

It conveys the message that it is essential to be kind to yourself and not be afraid to ask for help if you feel the need.

Although he is “solo”, Irwin is still a member of 5 Seconds of Summer. He said in an Instagram post that it brings him joy to be in a group where he is able to “freely create inside and outside of it”. ‘Superbloom’ moves away from the pop sound of 5 Seconds of Summer, leaning more towards the rock genre. Irwin made this stylistic decision because he felt people really needed “explosive and explosive” music “with guitar sounds and lyrics that are just personal and real”. He claims people are “fed up with the perfect pop song.” It made ‘Superbloom’ a raw, emotional, honest and heartfelt album.

The first taste of the 10-track album was a solo Skinny Skinny, a very Nick Drake, folk-pop influenced track, and a very intimate listening experience. It’s completely unlike anything Irwin has ever released before, as the drums are one element that the song lacks – despite being the instrument Irwin is famous for. Fans have seen him bring his drumming skills and voice to 5 Seconds of Summer’s pop-rock bangers since they rose to fame, but no one has ever heard Irwin’s voice alone on a stripped-down acoustic track. , without battery at all. . The track was inspired by a conversation Irwin had with his 15-year-old brother, which encouraged him to explore his own issues with alcoholism and body image.

The song Doggy style is another very personal highlight of the album. Recorded in one take in Irwin’s living room, the song captures a relationship between his mother and a greyhound trainer. Irwin learned when he was young that if the greyhound didn’t come first in the race, he would be shot. Irwin draws a comparison between this haunting mental picture and the birth / labor / death cycle – the way we overwork and belittle ourselves when we fail to meet our own high standards. Songwriting is therefore quite unique, representing a niche subject that is far removed from the cliché tropes that often occur in songwriting.

Sweetness explores themes of depression and the importance of knowing it’s okay to admit that you need help. Irwin struggled with mental health from the age of 15, but didn’t seek treatment until he was 25. Although it was a very personal experience, Irwin wanted to use “Superbloom” to share his personal healing journey. “Superbloom” is the result of having received this help – it is an “explosion of confidence and resilience” for people who have struggled with mental health themselves and followed their own personal journeys. It conveys the message that it is essential to be kind to yourself and not be afraid to ask for help if you feel the need. He wants to encourage conversations about mental health and encourage people to help and support each other more.

The album strikes a balance between despair and hope

“Superbloom” is a deep, powerful, and personal work, with an overarching narrative of healing, recovery, strength and focus on your true self. It’s raw, poetic and mature; it is a record that Irwin made for himself, rather than for commercial success. Her goal is to connect with people – to make people truly to feel something, to encourage people to explore their emotions and learn more about themselves. This record helped Irwin on his own personal journey; the cathartic release that writing these tracks has provided him is evident in the way he talks about his pride for the record. It makes so much sense to him, which translates into an immersive and inspiring listening experience.

Gemma Rooster

Image courtesy of Cathy McCray via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

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