Oozing like “liquefied sucrose,” whilst offering “a Ritalin-buzzed rictus of happiness” was how theartsdesk described One Direction’s 2012 offering, Take Me Home. That, however, was a year ago, and a year is a long a time in the life of a heavily coiffured twenty-ish year-old pop idol. So, how then, have the intervening months treated the Anglo-Irish quintet? Are procedings now a little more adult or is it simply business as usual for Simon Cowell’s protégés?
Surprisingly, things actually have moved forward a fair bit. The tunes may still go a little heavy on the sugar, but it’s no longer strictly gooey, syrupy teen pop, more a light dusting of Tate & Lyle over bright and breezy pop-rock. Guitars crunch and harmonies soar over sturdy 4/4 beats. And although a palpably more adult sound was expected this time round, who would have predicted the triumphant power chords of the title track or the cod indie-rock styling of “Little Black Dress”?
That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of hideous ballads like “Story of My Life” or “You and I”. Even the jauntier, rockier numbers won’t have a particularly wide appeal. Then again, nor has the move to a more late-adolescent vibe resulted in growing pains like those of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber. Indeed, the closest we get to risqué lyrics is Harry telling the girl in “Little Black Dress” he wants to take her home from the party.