Fifth Harmony currently find themselves at something of a crossroads. They’ve broken out of their X-Factor origins and become successful as a group in their own right, but they have yet to rise to the upper echelons of pop music, like their obvious contemporaries, One Direction. If 7/27 is their push to achieve true domination over the pop music landscape, it might just succeed.
Upon release, lead single Work from Home seemed a little too similar to Rihanna’s Work, but it has aged well. It proves itself the lighter of the two, and whilst the hook still feels somewhat derivative, the sound design of the track is impeccable (the subtle crackling that accompanies the lead synth is a lovely addition). The song has seen huge success in the charts so far, and it would be unsurprising if more tracks from the album joined it. The Life, one of the two tracks written by R&B wonderkind Tinashe, shows a remarkable chemistry between her and Fifth Harmony, with her unique vocal flows translating well to the group’s signature swagger.
She also wrote the impressive opener That’s My Girl. The blaring horn that opens the track is certainly a rousing way to start the album, but it’s the way the track effortlessly shifts between styles that is most remarkable. The chorus, pre-chorus and verses seem to exist in different genres, but the combine into a coherent whole.
The contributions from Stargate and Kygo are less distinctive, however. The attempt to graft their own tropical-house style to the group on Write On Me, but the style doesn’t suit them. When singing over a trap banger, the group sounds fantastic, but over the EDM-lite of Kygo’s beats they simply sound anonymous. That’s the largest problem with 7/27: the lack of a clear identity. The strong and singular style of the first 3 tracks isn’t carried throughout, and the digressions into less hip-hop influenced genres dilutes the group’s identity, instead of broadening their horizons. Nonetheless, 7/27 is a solid pop album that manages to stand out from the crowd, with catchy singles, and a sense of confidence that can’t be found anywhere else.