Fifth Harmony release praiseworthy debut album

By Janelle Pitts

Via Epic Records

It’s been two years since five-piece girl group Fifth Harmony won the hearts of millions and finished in third place on The X Factor USA. Since then, the group has been working to perfect their debut EP, “Reflection.” The release of this record has been pushed back three times, but it seems that Fifth Harmony are finally ready to show the world what they have to offer.

The opener, “Top Down,” has a funky, synthesized bass line which echoes that of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” Rather than using the album’s first song to showcase their vocals, the girls rap the verses of “Top Down.” Though it was a risky move, it paid off because this track is a definite standout. It accurately conveys the fun, young essence that Fifth Harmony has.

“Reflection” leans toward dance-oriented tracks. “This Is How We Roll” has a bumping beat, a cool vibe, and a nice bass drop. “Worth It” takes a harder turn and features a brief saxophone solo reminiscent of Jason Derulo’s hit “Talk Dirty.” It also includes a short verse from rapper Kid Ink, a newcomer with a flow that glides perfectly over the instrumentation.

Though four of the members of Fifth Harmony are 18 years old and younger, they have clearly been inspired by old-school R&B. “We Know” is an acoustic, harmonious track which samples the melody from Blackstreet’s “Don’t Leave Me” and Debarge’s “Dream.” It demonstrates just how compatible the girls’ voices are.

The best track on the record, “Like Mariah,” samples Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” Made for radio, this formidable pop earworm proves ready to dominate the charts should it be released as a single.

The title track, and several other songs on the record, absolutely radiate feminism, and the girls’ powerful team dynamic complements these beliefs. The girls spend this song complimenting themselves, rather than complimenting the boys who chase them, evident in lyrics like “Think I’m in love, ‘cause you so sexy/Boy I ain’t talkin’ bout you, I’m talkin’ to my own reflection.”

Pop sensation Meghan Trainor, has writing credits on “Sledgehammer,” “Suga Mama,” and “Brave, Honest, Beautiful,” on which she is also featured. Trainor’s unique voice enhances this fun, body-positive track. It is a poignant way to end the album by a group of talented girls well on their way to becoming the most successful girl group of their generation.

Janelle Pitts is a contributing writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com.

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