Photo from Columbia Records.
By Lauren Fetter
English-Irish boy band One Direction is back with their fourth studio album, “Four.” This time around, though, most of the sugar-coated pop numbers from records past have been traded in for softer, more mature ballads geared towards an older audience.
The band, created by Simon Cowell during Britain’s seventh season of “The X Factor” in 2010, has reached super-star status, selling over 45 million records worldwide since their first album, “Up All Night,” was released in 2011. Their cult-like fanbase of tweens and teens across the globe has made One Direction, commonly known as 1D, a household name.
But what about appealing to a larger, more diverse audience?
After the drop of last year’s album, “Midnight Memories,” which featured an edgier, rock-based group of tracks described as instrumentally-similar to the likes of The Who and Van Halen, the band’s five members, all in their early 20s, strove for a more grown-up approach when it came time to make the fourth album.
“People say we don’t work hard and it’s all a game and whatever,” band member Liam Payne said in an interview with Capital FM. “We just wanna make good music. Every lad out there tonight who’s thinking One Direction are this and that—pick up our next album and see what you feel.”
The album’s opening track, “Steal My Girl,” is done in typical boy band fashion: Boy likes girl; Boy tells everyone how great she is; Boy lets everyone know that she is his, and his alone. Moving past the catchy single, listeners are welcomed by a number of mature and emotional tracks with lyrics that depict more than a puppy love infatuation — something the guys have struggled with since their first big hit, “What Makes You Beautiful.”
Songs like “Fireproof,” “Spaces” and “Fool’s Gold” are a breath of fresh air, each with a mellow vibe fit for any music taste. It’s hard to remember that these songs are on an album made by a group of young men who are known to literally run around in circles on stage at their own concerts.
The song “18,” written by singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, is a thought-provoking track about a couple whose love for one another is just as strong as it was when they were 18 years old. The lyrics, “All I can do is say that these arms were made for holding you/I wanna love like you made me feel/When we were 18,” combined with strong instrumentals and harmonies makes this track a must for all.
Other notable songs on the album include “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” a bouncy, feel-good number that will definitely make any listener want to get out of their seat and dance, and “Stockholm Syndrome,” a song filled with a variety of guitar riffs and lyrics that are worthy of belting out while driving.
But perhaps it is the group’s latest single, “Night Changes,” that is the best song on the record. A song about loving someone through it all, the boys sing, “Even when the night changes/It will never change me and you.” Relaxing and heartfelt, the ballad shows just how mature the band has become and how much they have grown.
Keep it up, boys.