Recording information: 1916 Studios, North Hollywood, CA; Beluga Heights Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Big Noize Studio, Los Angeles, CA; Conway Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA; Eightysevenfourteen Studios, Los Angeles, CA; I Wanna Go To Hawaii....Yay Studios, Kilauea, HI; The Enemy Dojo; The Hide Out Studios, London; The Record Plant Recording Studio, Los Angeles, CA; the Record Plant, Hollywood, CA; The Venice Studio, Venice, CA; Windmark Recording, Santa Monica, CA.
Photographer: Ben Cope.
The debut album from The X-Factor's second season third-place finishers Fifth Harmony, 2015's Reflection is a slick production superbly showcasing the group's multi-voiced approach to contemporary R&B. Working with a bevy of top-notch producers and songwriters including Julian Bunetta, Stargate, Dr. Luke, Ricky Reed, and others, Fifth Harmony members Ally Brooke Hernandez, Camila Cabello, Normani Hamilton, Dinah-Jane Hansen, and Lauren Jauregui have crafted an album that is very much a savvy pop product of the moment. Reflection hits upon all the au currant musical touchstones, from electronic-infused dance music to synthy, rhythmically bumptious hip-hop, to retro-'90s R&B, all without ever going too far in any one direction. If there is any one major antecedent to Reflection, it is clearly Beyonce's 2013 feminism-steeped eponymous opus. Along with various production similarities, from the militaristic drum corps rhythmic bed of "Bo$$" to the general focus on resonant vocals, there is also an overall vibe of positive girl power permeating Reflection. Fifth Harmony even directly reference one of Beyonce's most quotable lyrics, singing "Do you ever post your pics with no filter, 'Hashtag,' I woke up like this, too" on "Them Girls Be Like." Although essentially a radio-ready pop aperitif and nowhere near the cultural touchstone of Beyonce's album, Reflection nonetheless works as a Revlon ad-level post-feminist girls' night out with plenty of vintage '90s R&B swagger, all of which works to remind you that these women have all the right influences, from Beyonce to Mariah Carey, on the aptly titled "Like Mariah," even going so far as to call out the First Lady on the aforementioned anthemic "Bo$$." While lyrics like "Boss...Michelle Obama, purse so heavy gettin' Oprah Dollars" don't rise to the level of social commentary, they do seem to be offered with a glint of tongue-in-cheek humor, making Reflection an undeniably fun listen from beginning to end. ~ Matt Collar
Rolling Stone - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "The standout is 'Like Mariah,' which samples Carey's ageless 1995 hit 'Always Be My Baby' and more than lives up to her sainted image."
Billboard - "Working with a long list of songwriters and producers, Fifth Harmony show that they are capable of slick synth-pop, grungy hip-hop and fluttering R&B, the latter clearly indebted to the girl groups of the '90s."
Pitchfork (Website) - "It's an album of fun, feminist pop that is simultaneously wise beyond its years and refreshingly age-appropriate -- and it effortlessly embodies the ideals grasped at by the girl power think piece wave, with a sharp, nuanced perspective that can only come from lived experience."