Fifth Harmony album review: 'They knew they had something to prove - and they've done it'

It's been a rough journey for these girls. They started out on The X Factor almost half-a-decade ago, and they've been grafting ever since in an attempt to establish themselves. It took some time, but after Worth It became their breakout smash, they completed their rise to stardom with the iconic Work From Home. But then disaster struck when Camila Cabello left in late 2016 - or so detractors would have you believe. Headlines suggested this was the end for the band, but with the remaining foursome having a strong bond, they worked together behind the scenes to claw their way back from the edge, and they've managed that and more with their third album. Their most R&B leaning album to date, it's a surprisingly competent record from a girl band that appear to have finally come into their own. Camila's voice never lent itself to anything but pop, so with her out of the picture, Lauren, Dinah, Ally and Normani have finally been able to embrace the sound their voices were made for. Lead single Down may have disappointed on the charts, but Lauren's smokey vocal delivery and Gucci Mane's rap left us anything but concerned about the quality of the album to follow. New single He Like That, probably the most pop-learning track on the album, sees the girls dripping in sex appeal and confidence in  a way that doesn't feel in the least bit forced. It's their most cohesive full-length to date, and the group manage to transition from R&B bangers like Sauced Up - a true moment on the album - to the likes of heartfelt ballad Don't Say You Love Me, that shows their more vulnerable side while showcasing their powerhouse vocals. Seriously, Lauren's vocal tone was born to be heard and we can't say it enough. Tropical kiss-off Make You Mad sounds like something straight out of Biebers vault, and the Shaggy = It Wasn't Me sample in Messy helps make it one of the album's major earworms. With their voices now able to gel, there's finally harmonies all over the album, and noticeably they each individually shine in a way that they previously weren't able too. The band helped pen over half of the record, and it's so gratifying to see them finally carve out a personality for themselves that some may say was lacking on previous albums. There's something about the foursome that we can't put our finger on, but it makes us root for them. They've struggled and fought to have their voices heard in a misogynistic industry, and seeing them come out the other side intact and empowered is a wonderful thing. This is an album from four confident,  liberated women who have seamlessly transitioned from a youthful pop band into a mature, R&B group that begs to be heard. They knew they had something to prove after last year, and they've done that and more. Congrats, girls. Standout tracks: He Like That, Don't Say You Love Me, Sauced Up, Lonely Night ****/5 stars