Just in time for the holidays, One Direction has a new album in stores. We normally don’t give too much thought to the artistic aspirations of boy bands, but seeing as how One Direction is almost certainly the most popular band in the world these days, we decided to take a close listen to Midnight Memories. And you know what? We were pleasantly surprised by the new direction (pun intended) that they boys decided to take musically, referencing acts like David Bowie, Mumford And Sons and Don Henley along the way.
There is not proto-R&B or a long list of dance jams here; instead, they pull heavily from 80’s rock and the current wave of popular folksy music. Clearly, their highly compensated songwriting and producing team reached back into their high school hey-days for this one, with most of the references being closer to what these boys were probably conceived to and not what they grew up listening to. Overall, the album gets high marks – it’s no Arcade Fire, but it is solid pop music that is catchy and easy to listen to. It’s an album of growth, taking the boys from being teens themselves to more mature singers and songwriters, with each boy featuring in the credits at least once. Don’t fret, pop lovers of indiscriminate age – the burning torch of the boy bands is in good hands with these boys.
So, with all that said, what do these songs sound like, anyway? And how does one tell each of these guys apart? We’re to help, people. Here’s VH1’s Official Guide to One Direction’s Midnight Memories For Non-Teenagers:
TRACK 1: “Best Song Ever”
SOUNDS LIKE: A sprinkle of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and pure ole One Direction camp magic
The lead single from Midnight Memories was released as a promotional single for their documentary movie, This Is Us, earlier this year and still feels fresh. It’s pop at its most fluffy and fun, reminding us that One Direction know what their finest asset is: creating feel good sing along songs aimed at the masses. It feels as much like a summer single as you can get without directly referencing your sunburn and lakeside make-out sessions. The group’s best belter, Zayn Malik, exhibits some notable vocal flair, but the song mostly it keeps it safe and lets a few clever lyrics (“Her daddy was a dentist/Said I had a dirty mouth”), win you over. Almost incongruent to the rest of the more mature “rock” album, this track further stands out amongst the banjos.