It’s hard to review a One Direction album without acknowledging the ever-familiar boy-band that created it.One Direction remain one of the largest, most successful and widely recognized groups in the world, primarily due to their looks—their past three albums prove that it’s not because of top-notch quality music. But still, their existence is still as relevant as it has always been, and with the release of their fourth album, originally titled, Four, it looks like this unevolving presence is here to stay.
One Direction is seemingly defiant on remaining 100 per cent true to its name. Providing limited—if absolutely zero—music, vocal, or lyrical progression, the group’s fourth album simply marks an extension of its first. But it sells, so why not, right?
Crooning about love and heartbreak, the album crawls on like it’s simply checking off a list of required qualities. Every single song has to do with either falling in love, going after it, or being rejected by it. Vocally as generic as ever whilst providing lines such as, “I wanna escape from the city and follow the sun,” and, “I wanna be free / I wanna be yours,” it seems the group is intent on leaving behind all they know, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
An annoying aspect of One Direction is that the members sing from the point of view of guys who have terrible times with love: They are consistently being heartbroken and “there’s a future of [their] life [they] cannot see,” as the boys sing on “Ready to Run.” Uhm, I’m pretty sure you can: It’s comfortable, easy, and full of girls who would give up anything to be yours.
While the album has some nuance—opening track, “Steal My Girl” draws on rock influences, something the band should take with them in future endeavours, and the three songs towards the albums’ end—“Fireproof,” “Spaces,” and “Stockholm Syndrome”—are actually not that bad, and the production is essentially gleaming on every single one of the tracks. Still, One Direction desperately need a new direction.