On August 25, Fifth Harmony dropped their highly anticipated self-titled third album. All eyes were on Ally Brooke, Dinah Jane Hansen, Lauren Jauregui and Normani Kordei as they released their first album as a four-piece, following the departure of Camila Cabello. Whilst some thought they might crumble, Fifth Harmony have pulled together, proving to be stronger than ever and delivering their most diverse album to date in the process.
Channeling RnB vibes, the album showcases a growth in Fifth Harmony’s sound. Having written many of the tracks themselves, the album is also the most personal offering from the girls. The first release, ‘Down’ featuring Gucci Mane, didn’t really get us excited, however, follow-up promo track ‘Angel’ gave more of an insight into what we could expect from this album. After taking our time to listen to it in its entirety a few times, we’ve rounded up our thoughts on the new album.
The album opens with lead single ‘Down’, featuring Gucci Mane. Looking back at 5H’s previous hit singles, ‘Down’ has all the ingredients to be a success. Classic repetitive chorus? Check. Guest rapper? Check. However, it falls flat compared to the iconic ‘Work From Home’ and ‘Worth It’. Whilst ‘Down’ is a bop, for us it isn’t truly representative of their new era of music. With so many truly great songs on the album to choose from, the weaker track was definitely picked as the first release which is a disservice to the girls.
‘He Like That’ is up next, and here is where the girls start to come into their own. The track stands out as one of the best on the album thanks to its slick urban groove which leads into the catchy chorus. ‘He Like That’ showcases Fifth Harmony’s confidence and this is further supported by the sizzling newly released music video. We wouldn’t be surprised if this track makes a big impact on the charts over the next few weeks and months.
The third track, ‘Sauced Up’, is the first track on the album to contain a writing credit for the girls. The song is a feel-good offering all about letting loose on a night out. Speaking about the track with Official Charts, Normani said: “There’s going to be a bunch that’ll make you want to dance to in the club. Some that are sneakily that way too. ‘Sauced Up’ is definitely one of them. It’s quite the title, but it’s basically a night out in one song.” The track could have been pushed a little further but there’s no doubt that we want to go on a night out with the 5H girls after listening to ‘Sauced Up’!
Speaking about tracks which make you want to dance, ‘Make You Mad’ is also a bop with an irresistible beat. With lyrics such as ‘I’m gonna make you miss me, I’m gonna make you go mad, I’m gonna make sure I’m the best you ever had’, the track, which was co-written by Ally and Normani, has a sassy edge to it which we love.
‘Deliver’ kicks off with an urban edge but soon showcases an old-school RnB vibe. Taylor Parks, who was also responsible for ‘BO$$’, wrote the song, which Lauren describes as one of her favourites on the album. We have to agree! Bringing the nostalgic RnB vibe into the modern day, the track allows the girls to showcase a more grown up side to their music, both lyrically and melodically.
The RnB vibe continues during ‘Lonely Night’, which was co-written by Dinah and Normani. The track is all about telling a guy that “it’s gonna be a lonely night” for him if he doesn’t treat you right, making it one of the most relatable songs on the album. Whilst the track is mainly an urban offering, there are rockier undertones throughout thanks to the hint of guitar in places. We also love the (probably coincidental) nod to our favourite C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T bit from ‘BO$$’, as Ally spells out L-O-N-E-L-Y in the bridge.
Fifth Harmony truly come into their own in the next song. ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’ is easily one of the strongest tracks on the album thanks to its vulnerability. We’re so used to seeing Ally, Dinah, Lauren and Normani deliver fiercely confident offerings, however, ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’ shows us a different side to the group. The mid-tempo offering has a danceable beat throughout, but lyrically it is enough to bring a lump to your throat. In fact, it delivers one of our favourite lyrics from the entire album: “Don’t promise me tonight without tomorrow too”. Additionally, Lauren’s vocal truly stands out on this track, and you can feel the emotion in her voice throughout.
‘Angel’ was recently released as a promo track and before hearing the album in full, it gave us a genuine insight into the musical direction we could expect from Fifth Harmony. The track is gritty, dark and hypnotic, bordering into an edgy hip-hop style. Ally, Dinah, Lauren and Normani showcase their sassy side as they croon “Who said I was an angel?”, leaving you to feel the confidence and frustration in their voices. The aesthetically pleasing music video reiterates the edginess, and leaves us wanting more. It is one of the most RnB/urban heavy tracks on the album, and we would love to hear more songs like this from the ladies in the future.
The penultimate offering, ‘Messy’, is a grower. After one listen, we weren’t too enamoured by it and deemed it as one of the more forgettable tracks on the album. However, a few listens in, and we’ve come to appreciate this ballad which once again shows off the girls’ vulnerable side. The track, written by Ally and Normani, shows them opening up about some of the imperfect traits which make them who they are. Lyrics like “I can be hard to handle / Dance around the house with nothin’ but the radio on / I can be such a scandal, runnin’ at the mouth / Then crying on the bedroom floor / I can be messy”, counterbalances the usual confident lyrics we hear from the girls, but reminds us that despite their superstar status, they’re humans just like everyone else.
The final track is ‘Bridges’, and Fifth Harmony may just have saved the best ’til last. Penned by Lauren and Ally, the empowering anthem is a positive offering which aims to spread a message of hope by uniting people across the world. Whilst the girls are no strangers to tracks about female empowerment, this is their first track which gets a little more political. Lyrically, the track is their most mature yet and the chorus delivers one of the most powerful lyrics from the album – “No, we won’t separate, we know love can conquer hate, so we build bridges, bridges, not walls”. Combined with gorgeous harmonies and a slick beat, there’s no doubt that ‘Bridges’ is a highlight from the ten-track album.
Many have criticised the album for various reasons, but as their first release as a four-piece, Fifth Harmony have done their best to solidify their sound moving forwards. With a lot more creative control this time around, they’ve been able to put more of their own stamp on tracks, which in turn allows us to get to know the real Fifth Harmony through their music.
‘Bridges’ and ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’ are two of the album’s highlights due to the personal nature of the songs. Taking inspiration from world events and personal experiences, they’ve poured their soul into these tracks. Whilst we love sassy and bop-worthy Fifth Harmony, it’s so refreshing to see the girls deliver tracks laden with vulnerability and hope.
‘Angel’ and ‘He Like That’ also stand out as sound-defining tracks. They are mature offerings both lyrically and melodically – we’re excited by the RnB vibe and hope to see the girls continue to explore that sound in the future.
Overall, Fifth Harmony is a great representation of the music that Ally, Dinah, Lauren and Normani want to share with the world. The ten-track offering isn’t perfect by any means, but there are plenty of highlights which prove that this is only the beginning for Fifth Harmony – these ladies are here to stay.
Fifth Harmony is available now.