It’s no secret that Fifth Harmony‘s strength lies within the equal talent and potential of all 5 members: Lauren Jauregui, Normani Kordei, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Camila Cabello and Dinah Jane Hansen. The girl group, put together on The X Factor back in 2012, managed to make a name for themselves after signing with Syco/Epic Records, just like their British counterparts, Little Mix and One Direction. Now, after 4 years of growing together, the five girls’ bond seems stronger than ever, and that’s a feeling you definitively get when you listen to their brand new record, 7/27. Released today, the girls’ second album breathes confidence and cohesiveness in a way that feels less forced than in their debut album Reflection. This may be the consequences of the five girls’ search for identity, that their most devoted fans (yup, looking at you harmonizers) have been able to follow in the past couple of years. From LYLAS to Fifth Harmony, and from the very teen-pop of Better Together to the R&B vibes of Reflection, the group reinvented themselves many times, but it finally feels like they found the signature sound they were looking for.
7/27 gets off to a strong start with girl power anthem “That’s My Girl” and lead single “Work From Home,” which has already been certified platinum in several countries. With catchy hooks and easy-to-learn lyrics, those two songs, along with the third track “The Life” which had already been released as an instant grat track, are songs that will definitively make you want to get up and dance. The following track “Write On Me” is the first of the more laid back tracks of the album, which make about half of the album, but are more present near the end of the album. Released at the beginning of the month, the song really provided the girls the opportunity to showcase their individual vocals by its slower pace. The next track, “I Lied” is also more laid back than the rest of the tracks. Don’t go calling it a ballad though, for the production reminds us of some of today’s mainstream electro hits. It is followed by the girls’ newest single “All In My Head (Flex)”, of which the music video will be released soon. The song, which features rapper Fetty Wap, is a good follow-up to “Work From Home” and definitively has the same potential, especially with the summer coming up. The next three tracks, “Squeeze,” “Gonna Get Better,” and “Scared Of Happy” are the rest of the laid back tracks mentioned earlier. Though it would have been nice to find these slower tracks more spaced out throughout the album, the slower pace feels like a breather in the album and is greatly appreciated before the pace picks up again with the track featuring Missy Elliott, “Not That Kinda Girl”. I have to admit I was very surprised when I heard the girls would have someone as big as her on their album, but then again, Elliott is one to recognize talent when she sees it. The song has already been said to be worthy of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation by several sources, and I couldn’t help but agree. It serves as a very nice ending to the original 10-track album.
There are two bonus tracks to the Deluxe version of 7/27, but I need to also mention the two bonus tracks included in the Japanese version of the album, for my absolute favorite is one of them. The first bonus track of the Deluxe edition is titled “Dope,” and just as the rest of the tracks, it makes a pretty strong impression from the beginning, and I caught myself singing along to some of the lyrics before my first listen of it was even finished. The second bonus track is “No Way,” and from what I’ve seen on social media so far, it’s already a fan favorite and it’s easy to understand why. What happens to be the girls’ most vulnerable track of the album also is Lauren Jauregui’s favorite and she explained in an Instagram post that the song was actually recorded two years ago. Now, you may think I’m a little biased, because you know I cannot resist Lauren’s raspy vocals, but this song really spoke to me, and it will probably ring close to home for a lot of people, for the chorus goes “Everyone comes with scars but you can love them away / I told you that I wasn’t perfect, you told me the same / I think that’s why we belong together and unashamed / I told you that I wasn’t perfect, no way.”
As for the Japanese version, the first bonus track is titled “Big Bad Wolf,” and it’s yet another one of 7/27’s bangers. Written by quite a perfect team (Evan Bogart, Emanuel Kiriakou, Andrew Goldstein and Coffee), the song brings out the sexier side of the girls through very catchy yet pretty explicit lyrics. The second track though is the one I was telling you was my absolute favourite off the album, “1000 Hands”. The very beautiful piano-driven track is the only actual ballad of the album, and features solos from all five girls. From the first notes, you’ll just want to close your eyes and focus on the beautiful performance of the fab five. The highlights of the girls’ individual vocals are definitively more balanced in this album than they used to be, which allows Lauren, Ally, Normani and Dinah to shine as much as Camila in this opus.
Ultimately, one thing I can say for sure is that Fifth Harmony’s new album breathes growth and confidence and has a pretty good balance of tracks. 7/27 definitively has a good potential in terms of hits, with songs bound to assault and smash the charts in the same way that their worldwide hit “Worth It” did. But the slower tracks also showcase just how much the five piece has matured, not only mentally but also vocally. With a sound like that, I am far from worried for Fifth Harmony’s future!