Oh, One Direction. Where do I start with you? You’re a group that has managed to forge themselves a double-edged sword. The one edge is kept sharp by the unwavering dedication of their loyal fan-base of Directioners. The other edge burns brightly with the hate of other groups of music lovers who criticise them for their uncreative bubble-gum pop music, or they hold an enormous vendetta against the group’s rabid fans, who often act like poorly organized lynch mobs whenever somebody criticises One Direction’s music. Despite this, One Direction left skeptics far behind them as they embarked on a four-year trail-blazing career with each album they’ve released debuting at the top of the UK charts – with the exception of their debut album Up All Night.
There is no denying that One Direction has had an immense amount of success with their latest album Four entering the charts at the top position. People may express a vehement amount of hate for the band, but they’re clearly doing something right to be able to gain so much success in the pop genre. It is incredibly difficult for a group to maintain their relevance in the pop genre due to how fickle it is, but being singed to Simon Cowell’s record label usually means that it will be a lot easier for you, or you’ll just be cut from the roster and become another dying boy-band that can’t seem to get the message. Sorry Westlife.
Four is, as the album title suggests, One Direction’s fourth album. With a new album each year, there has to be a point where the band reaches burn-out and their music and songwriting begins to sound tired. The boys took a much more hands-on approach with the songwriting for the new album, but it is evident that the stress and fatigue of constant touring and being paraded in front of the media has an impact on the quality of the album. It may have been able to reach the number one spot due to the sheer buying power of their fans, or rather their fan’s parents, but that is not an accurate reflection of the quality of the album.
Their previous albums had a youthful energy that made their frustratingly clichéd sound slightly more bearable than it should have been. There was an irresistible catchiness and charm to their previous albums that Four seems to lack. There may be a handful of songs that are note-worthy of praise, such as the smash hit “Steal My Girl”. A song that was accused of copying New Found Glory, which is actually a brilliant thing because it is a truly brilliant song. It is catchy, but not in the obtuse way that their previous singles were. There is actually a semblance of musicianship to the song, and it doesn’t make you want to beat your head against the wall.
However, the triumph that is “Steal My Girl” does very little to mask the fact that the rest of the album is an almost backwards step for the band. It may allude to a growth in the maturity of the group, but at the same time they made very little effort to distinguish themselves from everything else they’ve created. It is meant to be an edgy album, yet it just seems like they were sat down in the studio and were told to recreate the previous albums, but in a “unique” way. The end result is a dull and monotonous album that contains a collection of pop hits by the numbers. What could have been a stepping stone to new heights for the boys is in-fact a step back for them. This album does little to support their statement of this not being their final album.