Artist Evolution In Quarantine: Ashton Irwin’s “Superbloom”
Quarantine resulted in a plethora of setbacks world wide. It closed down shops, postponed movie shoots and album releases, and sequestered people to their homes — which for some proved detrimental to their originality. With a worldwide pandemic hanging over their heads, many people weren’t in the mood to create, and understandably so, when it seemed like everything only kept getting worse.
However, quarantine also provided some people more accessibility to their own minds than ever before. For some artists, this was horrifying, as the creative mind can be overwhelming. However, for some artists, this time in quarantine proved beyond beneficial.
For instance, one artist who took this time to heart was 5 Seconds of Summer's Ashton Irwin. During quarantine, Irwin went into uncharted territory and devised his debut solo album entitled “Superbloom” in the span of eight months, releasing it Oct. 23.
There are many reasons this album is poignant and noteworthy in this current time period, in fact too many for me to delve into, so it’s best to go over the highlights.
Ashton Irwin is the current drummer for Australian pop band 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS), most notable for their album “Youngblood” and it’s title track that garnered over one billion streams on Spotify and won several awards, such as the “Pop Music Award” at the ASCAP awards and “Song of the Year” at the ARIAs. It is safe to say that Ashton Irwin is no stranger to success and the creation of music.
Photo of the cover of Irwin’s album, “Superbloom” from Ashton Irwin’s Facebook Page.
However, while his band is beyond prosperous, Irwin himself is not known to be in the spotlight. As the drummer for 5SOS, Irwin is not commonly featured on the vocals for the studio albums and even less in live performances. He has the smallest following on social media when compared to his bandmates and is not front and center in photoshoots or interviews.
Over quarantine, with his album “Superbloom,” Irwin decided to change that image. This album is genuinely nothing like his previous work with 5SOS. He has strayed away from previous pop influences and settled into the alternative rock genre, with influences leaning towards Nick Drake (“River Man” and “Pink Moon”), My Bloody Valentine, Foo Fighters, and others.
Usually, when writing music, Irwin would be working alongside his bandmates (Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood, and Michael Clifford) and joined by guest writers and producers, but, while sequestered in his home and unable to utilize those normal resources, the new album was written by only him and his roommate/producer Matt Pauling. This created a lyrical experience far different than any previous 5SOS album, with intimate and personal stories from Irwin himself. While 5SOS albums usually deal with the topics of romance, behind-the-scenes glimpses of the industry, and toxic relationships, “Superbloom” explores mental illness, the human condition, hope after depression, and more topics usually too taboo to discuss in the public light. Irwin takes a bold headfirst dive into “Superbloom,” and listeners are thankful that he did.
This album showcases immense personal growth, and it shows how quarantine forced artists to peer into their subconscious and determine their true motivations as human beings. Irwin did an exquisite job with this album, creating a new body of work that is not reflective of what he has been known for in the past.
While we should not thank the pandemic in any way for quarantine, it is important to note how artists made the best of a bad situation, and how even in catastrophic times, growth in your art and being can be achieved.