If there is one thing One Direction is not good at, it’s taking a breather. These boys have been hitting the ground running for the past three years nonstop. The management team is so keen on not letting the ephemeral nature of boy bands hit the fellas that they are sucking every ounce of their souls out to keep them alive and relevant. But for our own selfish desires, this is quite lovely. Last year’s “Take Me Home” was such a beaming bundle of happiness and eternal youth that it left me wanting more–and more I am now receiving one short-year later.
1. Best Song Ever: 10/10
This was such a good lead track for many reasons. First, it’s just infectious and an all around good time. The track also is a good transition from the “Take Me Home” sound to the new sound of “Memories.” I love choruses that just have so much depth and dimension and this one in particular soars. Can we talk about how great the video was too?
2. Story of My Life: 9/10
“Best Song Ever” is the transition and this is the start. The sound on this album has a more mature sound, while still keeping true to who they are. There are two distinct styles that are played with: 80′s pop/rock and, what I call, the “Mumford Effect,” which is the use of country/folk elements in pop music after Mumford & Sons made it cool and mainstream. I just wrote about that exact same thing on Avril Lavigne’s new album, and there have been countless other examples of it in recent releases. Anyway, this song just reminds me of sitting next to a warm campfire all bundled up.
3. Diana: 7/10
Why Diana? That is so not a hot name anymore in 2013. Let the 80′s begin. Fun little retro pop song. Could be in an 80′s high school movie. This has grown on me a lot.
4. Midnight Memories: 7/10
From 80′s pop to 80′s rock. This song is like a mix of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and Kiss’ “Rock N’ Roll All Night.” An ode to the crazy rockstar lifestyle they’re living. Sounds like fun. I’d join. I just honestly want to be in a boy band so much.
5. You and I: 9/10
This might be my favorite 1D ballad ever. Their voices sound so good on this. And the production is understated but powerful. This is going to be such a killer arena hit. I see the lighters now.
6. Don’t Forget Where You Belong: 6/10
Intro sounds like “Somewhere Only We Know.” They’re like…growing up. I am getting a little emotional. Even their artistry is evolving. Well, the chorus is a bit like a bad church youth group performance. I can relate to this song a lot though.
7. Strong: 6/10
This is one of those songs that just kind of sits in the middle. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not being raped on replay. Zayn’s little solo toward the end is obvi my favorite part, but that’s slightly biased
8. Happily: 8/10
Back to the country/folk sound. “We’re on fire, we’re all on fire.” I don’t ever want to grow up, and as long as I have 1D, I never will. This is so much fun. It’s like a swampy summertime jam. For some reason this sound matches them so well. The “oh, oh, oh, oh” breakdown is like amazing.
9. Right Now: 8/10
This so sounds like a One Republic song. Zayn’s voice is just growing so much. There is so much depth to it now. God help me. This is definitely an example of their sound maturing. It’s like no longer being able to play on the playground for recess. So sad, yet necessary.
10. Little Black Dress: 5/10
Fun, flirty song. Not really much else to say. It was over so fast.
11. Through the Dark: 10/10
Mumford-esque. Love. Love. Love. I think this is officially my favorite track on the album. “Oh, I would carry you over fire and water for your love.” You can’t help singing along and being happy, especially when Zayn is telling you all of the things he would do to be with you! Or, whatever bandmate you have claimed as yours.
12. Something Great: 6/10
It’s so magical. The music is so infectious. I feel like I’m in an enchanted forest with tea lights hanging from the trees and fairies whizzing around. That could just be the shrooms talking…. It’s kind of static though, the melody, and doesn’t really stray from the same note.
13. Little White Lies: 10/10
This was the first track I heard outside of the two lead singles and I was sold. Sold. SOLD. One Direction just hits such a sweet spot in my ears and heart. The chorus is great.
14. Better Than Words: 7/10
The sound is a bit eclectic. I can’t really put a finger on it. It’s really hard to dislike any 1D song because they’re so masterfully produced by dream teams so they kind of always sound good, but this is another one of those down-the-middle ones. Definitely has a good melody that is stuck in my head.
15. Why Don’t We Go There: 4/10
Sounds like Neon Trees. It doesn’t really seem to flow though. Love the bass and “ooh ooh oohs.” Probably my least favorite song on the album.
16. Does He Know?: 9/10
Straight up “Jessie’s Girl” re-make. Dancing like an absolute lunatic right now. Feel-good pop-ery. The melody is so incredibly catchy, especially in the pre-chorus. This should be a summer 2014 release.
17. Alive: 7/10
Another 80′s rock song. There is definitely a reoccurring theme on the album: be young and love. “Don’t look back, live your life.” That line toward the end when the bass kicks back in is golden.
18. Half a Heart: 6/10
It’s like the “Little Things” sequel. Their voices sound good over the gentle guitar strums, well, save for Louis. I know I’m going to catch hell for this, but I just don’t like Louis’ voice (on slow ballads); it doesn’t blend with the rest of the group. It’s so jarring because it’s so high and nasal. Anyway, it’s really sweet, but in the battle of the ballads, I prefer “You and I.”
I am exhausted from this album. All this jamming and smiling. Worn. Out. It’s such a departure from their sound on the first two albums but this somehow feels more genuine. Gradually the label will allow them to exert more influence in what the albums sound like, but you can definitely hear the rebellious, good vibes in this album. Can’t wait for the next album, which at this pace, should be out by summer!