Fourth time’s the charm for One Direction.
They showed wonderful growth with their leadoff single, “Story Of My Life”, from their last album, Midnight Memories. Unfortunately, the Mumford And Sons-esque song was the only bright spot on an album that was full of 80s rock copycat songs that I never wanted to hear again.
Well, on their new album, Four, the opening song (and lead single) “Steal My Girl”, opens with a piano that reminded me of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”, so I couldn’t help but worry we were in for another album that sounds like a bad 1980s cover band. Don’t worry. We aren’t.
“Steal My Girl” turns into a stadium-ready pop anthem that will get people singing along. The boys have created several tracks (“Where Do Broken Hearts Go”, “Girl Almighty”, “No Control”, “Spaces”, “Clouds”) that fans will love belting along with them on their next tour. “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” is my favourite song on the album. It has that 80s rock style, but the difference is it sounds original. 80s bands would have loved to get their hands on that track.
The boys balance those stadium anthems with songs that develop that rock/folk sound that they showed on “Story Of My Life”, but never showcased on the rest of Midnight Memories. Songs like “Ready To Run”, “18”, “Fool’s Gold”, and “Night Changes”, blend the rock/folk sound with a pop mentality. It’s really interesting. Heck, “Fireproof” sounds like a Fleetwood Mac song. “Stockholm Syndrome” is another standout that doesn’t fit either mold. It still has an 80s feel, but has a boppin’ pop sound that will get you groovin’.
Being a commercial supergroup, the boys have to stay between the lines, but it’s amazing how Four doesn’t sound formulaic. I don’t know the guys well enough to be able to distinguish each voice on the album, but the vocals are superb. Four is clearly showcasing One Direction at the top of their game.