Luke Hemmings combines thoughtful lyrics with anthemic production to create an incredibly promising debut album When Facing the Things We Turn Away From (WFFTTWTAF).
At 12 songs long, it's easy to think that Luke Hemmings is tentatively dipping into the world of music without his 5 Seconds of Summer band members to support him along the way, however, once you delve into the actual songs, you find that Hemmings has truly dived right into the deep end.
Single release 'Starting Line' made a lot of promises for WFFTTWTAF, with its honest and existential message and instrumental build up which made it feel like the type of song you find at the end of an indie coming-of-age movie, and its safe to say that the album certainly lives up to it.
Starting Line is one of many songs on the album that have an existential nature to them. It seems that Hemmings, much like every other music artist, and well, everyone on the planet, has been doing a lot of musing over the time that the world was shut down. These anxieties about life, love, and everything in between, find their way solidly into the lyrical content of almost every song on the album.
'Mum' addresses the concept of feeling lost and guilty at the fact he'd been so wrapped up in life and left behind his family back home. Lyrics like "I'm so heavy / Jump into my ocean / Can’t you see me sinking? / Love the fear of falling" hit right to the gut with their back and forth between wanting to be saved and accepting your fate. This emotional rawness then floods into other songs like 'Slip Away' and the more low-key 'Place in Me'.
However, these self-deprecating and turmoil-filled lyrics are not necessarily what stand out on the album - we've seen these kinds of emotional outpourings in Hemmings' work with his band. However, the production is where we really see this album shine. There is a consistent feel across all the songs, whilst keeping their individuality, which allows the album to be a very coherent project. The way in which a lot of these songs build from humble beginnings to anthemic powerful endings is a masterclass in keeping the listener interested until the very last second. These M83 style tracks, like 'Starting Line', 'A Beautiful Dream and 'Comedown' will leave the listener feeling empty by the time the track switches off.
'Comedown' in particular acts as a magnificent album closer, which pulls together all the best parts of the album with its soul-stirring lyrics and lowkey beginnings, developing into a dynamic and forceful ending.
Hemmings has shown he is a force to be reckoned with. With its short running time, When Facing the Things We Turn Away From, leaves you yearning for more of this music that grabs you both by the heartstrings and in the eardrums. Who knows if we'll get more solo efforts from Luke Hemmings, but he's proved that he can do it on his own, and if the bad ever does come to an end, his career in music certainly wouldn't necessarily be over.