A lot can happen in a year, just ask Fifth Harmony. In that time, the girl group put out an album, produced hit singles, embarked on a world tour, lost a member, bounced back and returned to making music that proves they are a force to be reckoned with.
The group’s third studio album, the self-titled Fifth Harmony, is out today. For many, the album begins a new, telling chapter in the group’s continuing story, as it marks their first LP as a four-piece following Camila Cabello’s sudden departure in December. While all five original members shared vocals equally, Cabello slipped into the role as the resident diva, and was the first to branch out as a solo artist by collaborating with Shawn Mendes (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”) and Machine Gun Kelly (“Bad Things”) prior to her official exit from the group, and is set to release an album of her own next month. As is the case with most vocal groups who lose a member, critics and fans alike expressed concern that the group’s best (and most successful) days were soon behind them.
For the remaining ladies of 5H—Lauren Jauregui, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Dinah Jane Hansen and Normani Kordei—their new album certainly ushers in a new era. Not one of turmoil and deterioration, but rather one filled with opportunity for them to focus on their strengths collectively, allowing them to really shine and have a lasting presence that girl groups before them have eventually seen flicker out.
The ten-track LP opens with “Down,” their first single sans Cabello and featuring rapper Gucci Mane. The beat resembles the girls’ first top 10 hit from 2016, “Work From Home,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, making it a smart choice for a lead single. However, plenty more other gems are found within the album, particularly the party banger “Sauced Up,” which is filled with catchy hooks and perfect for mainstream radio.
A primary theme in their music has always been female empowerment, which comes through stronger than ever in their latest release, along with various experiments in style and sound. They are unafraid to flaunt their confidence in “He Like That” but are also unapologetic for their behavior in the EDM-flavored “Angel” and kiss-off anthems “Make You Mad” and “Lonely Night.”
More than anything, this album is about the 5H ladies showing off their maturity. They admitted to having greater creative control this time around than with their first two albums and earned writing credits on most of the tracklist. The girls prove their worth as role models to their young fans in “Messy,” which teaches the importance of self-love and being accepting of personal flaws and insecurities. The album closes with what may be their best song yet: the honest and uplifting “Bridges.” It is interpreted as a smart commentary on the social events of today (“We know love can conquer hate / So we build bridges / Bridges not walls”), which is especially poignant as the girls, each of whom are from different cultural backgrounds, stand strongly together to offer a message of unity.
What do you think of the new and improved Fifth Harmony? Let us know in the comments below!