One Direction's second full-length effort mirrors debut
If I were to describe British boy band One Direction’s sophomore album Take Me Home in one word, it would be “familiar.” It seems the five insanely successful X Factor alums wanted to take this album in exactly the same direction as that of their first record, Up All Night. Again, One Direction supplies us with a decent selection of bubblegum pop songs, all of which tend to run together.
The tracks on Take Me Home — though insanely catchy — mirror the formulaic pop of the band’s last effort. That being said, familiarity isn’t necessarily a downfall. The style of the band’s first album is admirable and successful, and since this second record was released a short year afterwards, even a team of 30-plus writers couldn’t create a whole new sound for such a lovable group.
At first listen, it’s difficult to distinguish one song from another. Aside from three slower tunes, all the tracks have similar qualities — beat-heavy dance choruses and generic pop lyrics. As far as listening goes, the faster dance tunes are more fun. Among these upbeat songs, the best include “Heart Attack,” a top-40-style track that mixes fun sound effects into the chorus; “Kiss You,” a harmonious pop track that uses repetition and plenty of “yeah’s” and “na na na’s”; and the album’s first single, “Live While We’re Young,” a beach anthem for teens everywhere.
In addition to these tunes, tracks such as “Back for You,” “Change My Mind,” and “I Would” offer up a nice blend of pure dance-pop and ballad-esque stylings.
British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran wrote two of the album’s slower songs: “Little Things” and “Over Again.” These nice, acoustic ballads feature a sound that seems more attuned to Sheeran than to the band. The songs would seem much more genuine had Sheeran sung them. As it is, they appear a bit out of place on Take Me Home.
As with every album, there are a few rough patches. “C’mon, C’mon” is a generic early 2000-esque tune with too many clichés, and “Summer Love,” though refreshingly different from the rest of the album, is a boring tune that fails to capture attention and a poor album-closer.
These pitfalls don’t prevent One Direction from delivering a solid sophomore effort, but they do call into question the record’s alleged newness. The most striking thing about Take Me Home is its replication of boy bands past. There are only one or two tracks on the album that sound completely original. The rest are either vaguely familiar or tip-of-your-tongue “I’ve heard this before!” familiar. Songs such as “They Don’t Know About Us” and “Last First Kiss” echo music we haven’t heard since the start of the century from *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.
The album has its ups and downs, but it ultimately amounts to an impressive array of pop songs. Though somewhat formulaic, the catchy choruses and upbeat verses leave the listener wanting to dance, and that’s all a good pop album should do. One Direction is truly this generation’s major boy band.