One Direction Solidifies Their Name In Boy Band History With 'Home'
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Take Me Home, the sophomore release from British boy band One Direction, is as delectably sweet, brilliantly polished, and winsomely innocent as the radiantly charismatic boys behind its vocals. Pure and densely concentrated, the colorful pop that characterizes their new record is shamelessly consistent through and through—leaving no room for musical filler or stylistic pretenses amidst its keenly crafted, bright production—and essentially, it’s their embracement of this pop-cliche that makes One Direction’s album so irresistibly alluring.
The opening track and lead single of Take Me Home, “Live While We’re Young,” with its catchy melody and unforgettable chorus, solidifies the assumption that the rest of the record will indeed be similar to the band’s debut, Up All Night, which was released only eight months ago in the U.S. and which currently has sold over 3 million copies. The song’s introductory riff is recognizably reminiscent of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” and though it obviously targets the YOLO generation, “Live While We’re Young” will inevitably hook a handful of older listeners, more comfortable with the seemingly dated, yet synonymous term “carpe diem.”
The whole of the record is heavily sugared with such tracks, but there are certainly several songs that typify this candied-pop best. “Heart Attack,” for example, with its fun, spirited vocals, up-tempo drum stomp, and punchy “owww!” yelps, is glazed with perfect production. Produced by Dr. Luke, “Rock Me,” likewise, is crystallized by tantalizing refrains: not only does it utilize the drum-clap from Queen’s infamous anthem, but it is also coated with dynamic, electric guitars, resulting in one of the most enticing tracks on Take Me Home. “C’mon, C’mon” is just as rich as the former two songs—not so much because it’s layered with driving rock tones, but more because it’s lustered over with clubby, pounding synths.
One Direction’s sweet spot is definitely their hook-laden pop tunes, but the band is still just as adept when it comes to sentimental ballads. Although “They Don’t Know About Us,” with its swelling exhortations about all-consuming love, is charming, it’s the album’s final song, “Summer Love,” that takes the cake. An acoustic, mellow song, it is, nonetheless, luscious and sweeping, crafted with mellifluous violins and honeyed vocals. Amidst these two songs, however, the power-ballad “Change My Mind” is forgettable, and despite the fact that it’s pleasant, there is little to set it apart from the more embellished aspects of the record.
Penned by English music sensation Ed Sheeran, “Little Things” and “Over Again” are two other notable slow songs. Relying less on thickly frosted production and more on Sheeran’s idiosyncratic, honest lyrics, both tracks allow the band to display their mastery of the whole pop genre. Simple and melodically fingerpicked, “Little Things” is sprinkled with tenderness—even though it’s entirely about female imperfections. Similarly, in “Over Again,” the boys, with their polished vocals, sing to elevated instrumentation and lyrical phrasing that are distinctively Sheeran’s, but either way, the British team effort seems to work on both songs.
Evident also in Sheeran’s lyrics is the fact that the band is clearly singing to their fan base. For example, in “Back For You,” they croon “I’m looking out at the crowd…. / I’ll be coming back for you,”—a dream-come-true for all female One Direction concertgoers. And though it is spritely whistles, jaunty handclaps, and a bouncy ’80s hook that characterizes “I Would,” it’s the fact that the boys entreat, “Would he say he’s in L-O-V-E? / Well, if it was me, then I would” that wins girls over.
The lyrics here seem innocent enough, but it’s irrefutable that the group is trying, subtly, to reach an older demographic. Their smooth falsetto successfully sugarcoats slightly suggestive lines, such as those of “Last First Kiss” (“I wanna be first, yeah / Wanna be the first to take it all the way like this,”) and those of “Kiss You” (“If you don’t wanna take it slow / And you just wanna take me home / Sing yeah / And let me kiss you”), but as previously mentioned, it seems pretty clear that the band is just responding to their audience. Demographics aside, though, Take Me Home, in its own right, is deliciously addictive from start to finish—after all, everyone needs a sweet treat every once in a while.