Album Review: Luke Hemmings - 'When Facing The Things We Turn Away From'

Indie heart-throb Luke Hemmings is most known by far for his work as lead singer of 5 Seconds of Summer, the biggest pop-rock boy-band of the last 10 years. This week, Hemming's branches out on his own, releasing his solo debut - 'When Facing The Things We Turn Away From'. The Mic's Hannah Aldred shares her thoughts.

Luke Hemmings' evolution as an artist is highlighted in his new album, When Facing The Things We Turn Away From, his first solo endeavour without his fellow bandmates of 5 Seconds of Summer. The extremely personal album came about almost accidentally, with Hemmings turning to music as an escape during the darkest times of the past year. It was during these lockdowns and days at home that Hemmings created his first album, experimenting on guitar and piano in the walls of his own home. These quarantine lyrics represent intimate spaces, where Hemmings has been able to explore his thoughts alone, in his own private place.

5 Seconds of Summer’s fourth studio album CALM was released in March 2020, during unprecedented times at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Whilst 5 Seconds of Summer fans enjoyed the album at home, Hemmings used his time to focus on a new individual project that extends his portfolio as a singer, songwriter and performer. When Facing The Things We Turn Away From takes influence from artists like Harry Styles and M83, with Hemmings treating fans to infectious melodies and unapologetically raw lyricism. Upon listening, it feels as if Hemmings is addressing the listener personally, and the sheer intensity and passion within his lyrics is apparent throughout all 12 songs. Hemmings invites listeners to experience 43 minutes and 39 seconds in his brain; his thoughts and feelings raw and exposed. Tracks like Bloodline, for example, see Luke layer intimate, echoing lyrics over a stretch of somber piano chords.

"Hemmings explores the concept of time is through his reflection on youth, where he makes an effort to dissect his blurred memories"

The opening track Starting Line truly takes listeners on a journey and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Emotional and energetic, the song is perhaps the Starting Line of a very exciting journey for Luke Hemmings, the exploration in himself as a solo artist. The track is electric - the chorus teasing listeners as it builds up to the instrumental break, where Hemmings treats fans to a display of astonishing musical skill.

The final track of the album Comedown discusses the loneliness that Hemmings faces. In the track's lyrics, Hemmings explores the preciousness of time, a feeling undoubtedly heightened by the coronavirus pandemic he found himself writing in. Hemmings is wishing to feel a ‘come down’ on him, the coming of something new, something that removes him from this lonely state of mind. He wishes for light and the desire to feel needed or to just feel something, especially when the world seems so bleak. Whilst the lyrics of this closing song are dim and cruel, the feel of the track is far more relaxed than the opening, with an acoustic guitar filling the gaps between Hemmings’ vocals. The instrumentation is not distracting, instead it allows listeners to truly absorb the meaning of Hemmings’ words.

One track that particularly stands out on the album is Saigon. The song is just beautifully infectious. A relaxed melody built with guitars and drums carries the song, and the chorus is comparable to the likes of Harry Styles or even Blossoms. Time is a prevalent theme across all twelve songs, and in Saigon, Hemmings seems to be reminiscing about a relationship that seems to be falling victim to time. Hemmings and his lover seem to be ‘chasin'’ the way they once were, but Hemmings is implying that it’s time to face ‘the things we turn away from’ rather than ‘turn away’ from their obvious issues. Time here seems to have ruined what once was, but Hemmings is now using time to fix things, emphasising the power of time, again which Hemmings was exploring during lockdown. Another way in which Hemmings explores the concept of time is through his reflection on youth, where he makes an effort to dissect his blurred memories as he evolved into an adult, at the height of his fame in 5 Seconds of Summer.

Whilst this is Hemmings’ first solo project, it oozes confidence both lyrically and musically. The lyrics don't pull any punches, and fans of Luke can expect more of this, both in the work of 5 Seconds of Summer and any projects Hemmings finds himself embarking on in the future.

Written by: Hannah Aldred

Edited by: Elliot Fox

In article images courtesy of Luke Hemmings via Facebook. Video courtesy of Luke Hemmings via YouTube.