Ashton Irwin shares some of his biggest life struggles in his debut solo album
After not hearing Ashton Irwin’s voice in a solo setting since his falsetto in “If Walls Could Talk” in 2018, he released his debut solo album Superbloom on Oct. 23.
With Irwin being the drummer for 5 Seconds of Summer, his voice was never truly put forward in 5SOS songs. In contrast, Calum Hood, the bassist, had a solo song in the group’s latest album CALM, “Wildflower,” as well as in Youngblood, “Babylon,” which was a bonus track on the album’s deluxe edition. Yet, Irwin is the first of the pop-rock band to pursue a solo career.
After announcing he had been focusing on his solo career in September, Irwin released his 10-track album exactly a month later. Instead of being in Luke Hemming’s (5SOS’s lead singer) and Hood’s shadow, Irwin is now at the forefront of the album. There are zero collaborations in this album, which could have been done on purpose to emphasize the “solo” part of the next step Irwin is taking in his career. Regardless, it also highlights how intimate this project felt to him.
Naturally, the drums on this album shine, given that Irwin mains on the kit in 5SOS. The electric guitar is also prevalent. Both these instruments particularly stand out in heavier and more uptempo moments, as heard in “SCAR” and “Greyhound.”
There are slower and calmer songs as well, such as “Skinny Skinny,” in which we can truly hear the vulnerability in Irwin’s voice. This makes sense as it’s about body dysmorphia, one of the many personal struggles he shares in Superbloom.
We can also hear violin in some gentler songs, for example, in “Sunshine.” This track envelops us with its warmth, making us smile and want to see the sunshine Irwin is talking about (“See the sunshine / Just like the first time / Not just today / Not just tomorrow / But now ‘till / Forever and ever”).
In most songs, Irwin builds up the tempo, leading to an instrumental (or instrumental-dominated) passage then slows it down. This allows us to truly process and think about what Irwin is saying, while enjoying louder instrumental passages. After which he brings us back to a slower pace, making us leave his alluring world and come back to our own reality.
The young drummer turned alternative singer-songwriter did an amazing job at delivering many strong messages related to some personal problems he struggled with over the past few years.
In the interlude “Matter Of Time,” Irwin discusses his battle with alcoholism (“Darkness shows up / Don’t you let it grow / The light will shine in / Then your heart will know”). He also talks about overcoming depression in “The Sweetness” where he flawlessly opposes the two main emotions he felt: total darkness and indestructible hope. (“When the darkness creeps into / Your basement / When the darkness / Takes it all away again”) as opposed to (“When the sweetness / Seeps into your bloodstream / When the sweetness / Makes you love your life again”).
This album is all about perfect balance. Irwin contrasts opposites, almost to validate that feeling bad is as normal as feeling good. He combines light and darkness, joy and sadness, fantasy and reality, offering us all the possibilities.
Stepping into multiple roles for the first time, Irwin clearly put a lot into the creation of Superbloom. As singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, he worked on the details to make sure he was sharing his story the way he wanted to while hoping to help others who are facing similar problems.
Trial track: “Have U Found What Ur Looking For?”