As we predicted 12 months ago (how time flies), One Direction are back with their latest studio album, uninspiringly called ‘Four’.
It directly follows on from ‘Midnight Memories’, focusing on 1980s-inspired guitar pop and middle of the road indie numbers. And that’s just where the similarities start!
First single ‘Steal My Girl’ has the same writers as their last first single offering (‘Best Song Ever’), albeit with a couple of the group chipping in.
Similarly ‘Ready To Run’ starts almost identically to ‘Story Of My Life’ before developing a fuller sound that the latter could’t manage.
Meanwhile, Ed Sheeran off-cut ‘18’ is further proof that Sheeran can do no wrong, but is perhaps better suited to a soloist than a group.
In fact, most of the ballads on ‘Four’ are far from the group’s best. ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’, ‘Spaces’ and ‘Once In A Lifetime’ are particularly boring, both in quality and in song titling. The best ballad by a mile is the second single ‘Night Changes’, which seems charmingly earnest. Yes it’s all manufactured to appear that way, but ‘Night Changes’ is at least the most convincing.
In better news, the band’s attempts at 1980s stadium anthems are more hit than miss; ‘No Control’ is covered in 5SOS’s DNA whilst the Harry Styles co-written ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ has an undeniably catchy guitar riff. ‘Clouds’ is a less successful attempt at anthemic pop, coming off forced and a little anemic.
The deluxe edition’s bonus tracks start off strong with ‘Change Your Ticket’, but hit a new low for the group with the ‘Spirit In The Sky’ rip-off that is ‘Act My Age’. We appreciate the group (or their management’s) less-than-subtle push towards maturing the band’s sound, but since the boys are still in their early 20s why does ‘Act My Age’ sound like a dad band?
With all the 1980s power pop and Westlife-esque man ballads, it looks like the band’s ‘one direction’ is to an early retirement!
Perhaps it’s time for the boys to have some time off to actually act their age rather than sing half-heartedly about it?
Download : Night Changes, Stockholm Syndrome, Change Your Ticket.