This album has sort of come from nowhere, hasn’t it?
Last year, Fifth Harmony’s second set 7/27 was announced aeons before it actually hit the shelves. In the run-up to its release, Work From Home had time to become a global smash and the band’s profile became higher than ever before.
This time around? Things feel a little… quieter. Maybe it’s just because Down didn’t quite hit the same highs as WFH, maybe it’s because the album was only announced a couple of weeks ago, or maybe it’s (whisper it) because Epic and Syco aren’t investing as much in them this time. It certainly won’t help matters that Taylor Swift has released her new single on the same day as the LP’s release.
Long story short: if Fifth Harmony (for the album is self-titled) is slept on and struggles to perform well in the charts, it’d be a crying shame – for it’s possibly the group’s strongest album yet.
Cohesively, it just feels like it gels together much better than either Reflection or 7/27. At a slimline 33 minutes long, it doesn’t waste any time: it feels as if Lauren, Dinah-Jane, Normani and Ally have chosen their lane and stuck to it, and it pays off. They’ve openly spoken of having more artistic input this time around, and it shows.
Among the highlights, Make You Mad is a satisfying mid-tempo lustbop, Don’t Say You Love Me aces the obligatory Vulnerable Moment, and final two tracks Messy and Bridges ensure the set finishes on a high.
The only potential problem? There’s nothing on here that really sounds like it could be a big hit single: nothing’s as attention-grabbing as That’s My Girl, or as infectious as Work From Home. And whilst the quality of the album hasn’t suffered as a result, its sales potential may well do. There’s a real risk of its longevity waning without a big radio smash or two to prop it up – and given that this is the now-quartet’s most important era yet, it’d be a real shame if their best body of work to date is slept-on.