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Girl group Fifth Harmony’s debut album, “Reflection,” is a tightly crafted, cohesive collection of songs that are bound for playback on the radio and at every house party of 2015.
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The group rose to fame on the second season of the popular singing competition, “The X Factor,” where all of the members originally auditioned successfully as solo artists, but failed to advance alone. They were brought together by series creator and judge, Simon Cowell, to compete in the “groups” category of the show, ultimately finishing in third place.
“Reflection” is a slick, stylish pop album that borrows from contemporaries Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, and Beyoncé and adds in Fifth Harmony’s unique and perfectly executed multi-voiced approach to make the sound their own.
The lyrics on the record are fun, feisty, and chalk-full of pop culture references for the average millennial. The first single from the album, “BO$$,” references Kanye West, Dr. Dre and Michelle Obama and surges with female empowerment, a theme throughout the album.
With quotes like “Purse so heavy/getting Oprah dollars,” it’s easy to see that this group has a firm grasp on what it takes to be a top 40 artist in this day and age.
The album opens with the snapping fingers and bouncy synth of “Top Down,” before slipping into “BO$$.” After two dance-ready tunes, the group changes it up with the single “Sledgehammer,” a perfectly constructed pop song.
Co-written by Meghan Trainor, this track takes lovesickness and turns it into a powerful anthem that is chalk-full of hooks. From the perfect vocal harmonies to the understated synths and the drum-burst at the end of the bridge, this song warrants repeated listens.
“Worth It” is up next and it features the first guest of the album, Kid Ink. The rapper delivers the first verse, and it bounces well off of Fifth Harmony’s style. The track’s prominent horn is reminiscent of Grande’s “Problem” and gives it the punch it needs to stay on your playlist for months.
The next track, “This Is How We Roll,” features another highlight chorus, with harmonized vocals layered over glimmering guitar chords. However, the songs pulls a 180 when it hits the verses, where it exchanges its soft rock sound for dance-club beats. The contrasting styles don’t mesh well together and the song quickly becomes forgettable.
Through the first five songs, the album aims for a club-ready vibe with lyrics more about having fun than falling in love. They mix it up on the sixth track, “Everlasting Love,” where the women show off their R&B chops in this bouncy, romantic tune.
“Like Mariah” is an entertaining track all about one of the group’s biggest influences, Mariah Carey. The group belts out the powerful notes and expert falsettos before Tyga intervenes with a solid verse in this album highlight.
The pop culture cues return in “Them Girls Be Like,” with references to Instagram and selfies in this catty track that targets “them girls that do too much.”
The title track, “Reflection,” sees the group do its best Beyoncé impression in a love song to themselves, where they sing of falling in love with their own reflection.
The final two tracks, “Sugar Mama” and “We Know,” close the album out strongly. “Sugar Mama” is a lively TLC-inspired tune that quietly slips into closing track “We Know,” a breakup ballad that slows the tempo for the first time on the record. This track emphasizes the vocals more than any other and the ladies’ skills are on full display in the bitter song.
The album is a fun ride, full of tongue-in-cheek lyrics, powerful singing and finely crafted beats from beginning to end. Fifth Harmony has proven, just one album in, that they have what it takes to become one of the pop music heavyweights that they emulate so well.