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A Love Letter to my Favorite Album: When Facing the Things We Turn Away From

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

If you have never listened to this album, you are doing yourself a disservice. This album quite literally changed my life and the way I listen to music. Up until this album, I had never been affected by music in such a profound way. If the name Luke Hemmings sounds familiar, there is a reason. He did not just enter the music game in 2021 with the release of “When Facing the Things We Turn Away From” (WFTTWTAF). He has been in the industry since 2011 when he and his friends formed the band 5 Seconds of Summer. Luke’s solo album is how I came to be the 5SOS stan I am today.

The album is 43 minutes and 35 seconds of the most beautiful and honest depictions of life, mental health, relationships and self-acceptance. Not only is every single song a carefully crafted masterpiece, but the album artwork is incredible. The cover of the album is Luke looking at a blurred reflection of himself. There are several songs throughout the album where he references his reflection. He talks about not recognizing himself at times and being unhappy with the reflection he sees. As the album progresses, his opinions of his reflection change. He does not recognize himself in the mirror because he was forced to grow up so fast while being in such a popular band through the entirety of his teenage years. At the end of the album, he is learning how to change in a way that he can recognize himself in the mirror and be okay with the version of himself that he sees. In an interview, Luke said this is the most honest he has ever been publicly and writing the album took a lot of difficult self-reflection.

The first track, “Starting Line”, is such a good beginning to an album. It is about watching your life go by in a flash and forgetting some things that happened to you because it feels like your life is going by so quickly. While I have always loved this song for the lyrics and sonic production, I have recently started to relate more to the meaning. I felt like my summer abroad went by so fast and it was such a crazy experience. I was truly independent for the first time ever. Entering back into a regular school setting was odd. Graduating college a whole year early is also showing me how quickly I am growing up and how fast my time in college is going by. Listening to “Starting Line” makes me think back on all the amazing things I have been able to experience and find a deeper appreciation for them.

My two favorite songs in the whole world come from this album. I could never decide which one is truly my favorite. “Saigon”, the second track on the album literally made me stop what I was doing the first time I heard it. I just sat down and listened to it. Luke wrote this song about how he felt after returning home from a trip to Saigon, Vietnam. He wrote about the sad and depressive feelings of returning from such a fun vacation. You spend a lot of time chasing the highs you felt on your vacation without success of achieving those feelings again. I have always loved the sound of this song. The lyrics and production are incredible. There have been many times where I put this one song on repeat for hours. But again, I had not really related the lyrics until I returned from Italy and found myself missing the way of life I had there. Everything was so beautiful and peaceful. Coming home from that was hard to do.

As I mentioned earlier, I am graduating a whole year early. Though it is entirely my decision, I am terrified. “Repeat” is a song about the feeling of living a certain way for so long and then that way of life ends for you. Despite the amount I complain about it, I love school. I love the structure and the challenges it presents me. Besides the summer, I do not really know how to live without school. And soon enough, I will have to learn what real adult life is like. I am petrified of this. Sometimes I think I should maybe go to school for four years or go to graduate school. However, I know this is not what I actually want; it is just me trying to delay leaving the safety and comfort of school. “Repeat” beautifully describes how you change as a person as your life circumstances change. Luke writes about how hard it can be to recognize yourself because you were stuck in your old, habitual way of life for so long. Sometimes, it is hard for me to step back and see myself truly as an adult rather than just a student. As I have gotten older and experienced more, I have become more mature and changed in many ways.

Nothing in this world matters more to me than the opinions of my parents. If they are not proud of me, then I have severely failed. I have always been thankful for the incredibly close relationship I have been able to have with both of my parents. As expected, college has made talking with them a bit more difficult. Our schedules do not always align and sometimes, we do not get to catch up for a few days. “Mum” is about Luke’s feelings of losing touch with his mom because of how hectic his life can be. He knows his mom is proud of him, as I know my parents are of me. However, sometimes the guilt of not being able to spend time with these people that have supported us all our lives can become really heavy. Luke describes the rock his mom has been for him all his life and how he would never want to do anything to disappoint her or neglect their relationship. I love “Mum” because it is a unique topic that is not often showcased in music.

There is nothing more relatable for a teenage girl than the feeling of laying awake at night and thinking about every decision you have ever made. “Slip Away” is about that feeling. I know I stay awake for far too long at night rethinking conversations and interactions from literally years ago. No matter how many times I replay them in my head, they will not change. “Slip Away” also describes the fear of letting loved ones know your true self and them possibly exiting your life once they do. This is a fear I can relate to as I often do not share certain aspects of my life with people I care about because I think they might feel it is too much to deal with. My friends often like to joke that I am the “mysterious” one in our friend group. This is mainly because I do not often share my thoughts and feelings in fear of judgment and no one else relating. Luke perfectly captures this feeling through the song.

Candidly, I have had suicidal thoughts. This is not new information to some people, including my parents, so I feel comfortable sharing it here. “Diamonds” describes Luke’s own struggles with suicidal thoughts and depression. He did not expect to make it to 25. The song describes Luke not really knowing how to handle all the emotions he has felt as he grew up. I have felt the same way and “Diamonds” is a beautiful portrayal of that trepidation.  

My other favorite song on the album, “A Beautiful Dream” is the most ethereal song I have ever heard. It makes me feel so peaceful yet energized at the same time. Words cannot do it justice, you have to listen it for yourself to understand. It is such a unique sounding song with so few words. Oftentimes when I listen to the song, I close my eyes and just listen. This produces a display of colors that just match the vibe of the song perfectly. Seriously, you just have to listen to it to get it.

“Comedown” is undoubtedly the best ending song of any album I have ever listened to. The song is about surviving longer than you ever expected to and watching parts of your life unfold that you never thought would. In the song, Luke sings about feeling emotions he never let himself feel before. He talks about how refreshing it is to let yourself feel things you have kept inside for such a long time. I personally shove my emotions down and do not feel them the way I should. “Comedown” brings the whole story of inner turmoil to a close in the most pleasing way.

There are no better words to describe WFTTWTAF than auditory perfection. I have never not been in the mood to listen to any of the songs when they come on. And while I did not talk about every song on the album, THERE ARE NO SKIPS. Something I love about this album is that there are no songs about being in love. This is not to say I hate all songs about love and being in love. I just mean to say that it is refreshing to find an entire album not dedicated to the cliché ups and downs of romantic relationships. I myself have never experienced romantic love. Sure, I have had crushes here and there, but nothing I would truly define as a romantic relationship. The way I view life is that I have plenty of love and adoration from my family and friends, therefore I have no need for romantic love at this point in my life. I think there are more important things to focus on and this album talks about many of them.

 If you are going to listen to the album, it has to be done in track order. Otherwise, the journey Luke created through the songs does not have the same effect.

Delainey Muscato is a junior journalism major with philosophy and sociology minors. This year she is excited to be the brand deal manager, assistant events planner, and senior editor for the SBU chapter of Her Campus. In her weekly article for Her Campus, she usually writes about her personal experiences at college, as an intern, or just in life. Delainey is excited for her second year as a member of Her Campus and can’t wait to help new members be just as engaged in the club as her. Outside of Her Campus, Delainey is a very active journalist. She writes for a newspaper in Ellicottville, The Villager. These articles typically detail local events or highlight people in the area. She also just began writing for Tap into Greater Olean. This news site covers stories directly rooted in the Olean and Allegany area. This summer, Delainey spent five weeks studying abroad is Sorrento, Italy. In her free time, Delainey loves to spend time with her friends and family. She spends a lot of time reading on her porch at home. Delainey also loves to take her dog Nella on walks. Her favorite TV shows are The Office and Friends. Her favorite movie is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. She also loves music and spends a lot of time discovering new music and perfecting her playlists. www.linkedin.com/in/delainey-muscato-b10134282