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Luke Hemmings has the heart of a “boy” who wants to be at home in EP

Official cover art for Luke Hemmings’ new EP, “boy.” The EP was released on Apr. 26. PUBLIC DOMAIN

5 Seconds of Summer lead singer Luke Hemmings taps into a sense of nostalgia for a time that never existed in his latest extended play (EP) titled “boy,” released on April 26. This seven-track EP marks his second solo project, following his debut solo album “When Facing the Things We Turn Away From” (2021).

Having carved out a space in music history as one of Australia’s most successful musical artists, 5 Seconds of Summer lights up sold-out arenas with the crescendo of vibrant melodies. After releasing five studio albums as the band’s frontman, Hemmings showcased his self-assured, classic rock-inspired sounds in his solo debut, which marked the first time he felt stillness since he was 16. For Hemmings, “stillness” symbolizes a period of calm and quiet, particularly during his time in the band.

With “boy,” Hemmings delves into deeper melancholy and intimate loneliness, creating a confidently self-assured sound against the backdrop of dreamy synths. These songs were created during a time when he was unfamiliar with the idea of stillness.

The EP begins with an aching longing in the guitar-driven bedroom pop track “I’m Still Your Boy,” as Hemmings grapples with the growing pains of adulthood while reminiscing about adolescence. In a mix of longing, regret and the struggle to move forward, he reflects on his feelings of being stuck, singing, “I’m sat in the driveway, but I can’t go in.” Hemmings wishes he was just a boy — someone with a better understanding of how things would end.

The lead single, “Shakes,” captures an intensely dreamy atmosphere mixed with Hemmings’ tender vocal delivery. With lyrics, “Can’t shake this feeling / Boy, I just wanna be yours,” there’s a yearning and an acknowledgment of the potential for pain. The song provides a natural progression from his earlier releases, giving Hemmings a platform to craft lyrically discerning music which deeply resonates with his listeners. 

Tracks such as “Benny” and “Garden Life” create ethereal musical atmospheres, evoking feelings of longing and human connection in extremely different tones. In “Benny,” Hemmings sings about making sacrifices for the sake of another’s sensitive heart and happiness, as depicted in the lyrics, “I set myself on fire to keep you warm.” Sonically, the track features Hemmings’ sweet vocals floating above lush synths and guitars.

In a different vein, “Garden Life” delves into the transient nature of existence, carrying a melancholic tone. The track particularly stands out in contrast to “Benny” for its deep imagery, such as staring out the window, a weeping willow whispering in the wind and an intoxication — like alcohol seeping into someone’s system. 

We often wonder what a passage of time means. Do we confront consequences or run from them altogether? Hemmings grapples with an overwhelming fear and anxiety toward “the inevitable death of [his] youth” in the synth-pop track “Close My Eyes.” Through the lyrics, “Now I don’t wanna close my eyes / See everythin’ I ever done / I never got to say goodbye,” Hemmings is forced to come to terms with the past, even when it’s uncomfortable or regretful. 

In the final two tracks, “Close Enough To Feel You” and “Promises,” Hemmings remains as introspective and vulnerable as ever. His wife, singer-songwriter Sierra Deaton, lends her background vocals to both tracks, adding a new dimension of intimacy and connection conveyed in the EP. 

The sense of closeness to someone else, whether it’s a romantic partner, close friend or the absence of closeness, deeply permeates the penultimate track “Close Enough To Feel You.” Hemmings finds himself falling apart at the seams again, as expressed in the lyrics, “this life is so familiar,” before he seeks solace in the haunting “Promises.”

In the EP’s concluding track “Promises,” Hemmings finds catharsis and closure, transitioning from the themes of nostalgia and longing in earlier songs. Throughout the EP, he envisions things in a stark contrast of black and white, but as the EP unfolds, he begins to notice nuances and complexities within his personal experiences. Through this introspective and emotional turmoil, Hemmings gains a new sense of clarity as if he is finally seeing things in color. Yet this song is a reminder of an aching pain that resonates with listeners wrestling with the harsh sting of lost love from their adolescent years.

Through his second project “boy,” Hemmings invites listeners to peer into his intimately vulnerable world, even if we’re all in different stages of our lives. Hemmings doesn’t just offer a collection of songs — he lays bare his innermost thoughts and emotions to his audience, finding moments of clarity amidst life’s chaos.

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About the Contributor
Clare Gehlich
Clare Gehlich, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor
Clare is the Assistant Arts and Culture Editor for The Statesman and a senior journalism major with a minor in political science. Since transferring to Stony Brook University in 2022, she has written for both Herald Community Newspapers and WSHU Public Radio.
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