Marking the resurgence of the boy band concept with their debut album, “Up All Night,” the British teen heartthrobs of One Direction return with their second full-length album, “Take Me Home,” a mere eight months later.
What is interesting about One Direction and other artists with a strong fan base (Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift notably) is that their music, which often focuses on lyrics about love and heartbreak, is not about musical quality but about how well it appeals to the fans.
Don’t get me wrong; I honestly believe the members of One Direction do have talent. However, they do not harness their talent to reach its full potential. They don’t push their limits to achieve greater musical range. Instead, they seem to be stuck in the quagmire of repeating melodies and rhythms that only seek to satisfy the teenage girl next door.
Luckily, for the time being, the quagmire seems to be working for them.
Continuing the dynamic combination of electro-pop jams and acoustic ballads, this new British invasion certainly knows how to capture its audience from album to album. “Take Me Home” is the perfect example of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” with songs like “Kiss You” and “C’Mon C’Mon” serving as suitable cousins to the first album.
“Take Me Home” boasts a fuller sound, one that relies heavily on guitars to carry along the harmonies. The album is fun and catchy, featuring lyrics their target audience will go crazy over. Plus, the band has a certain charming personality that will have even the most incredulous listener unconsciously tapping their feet and singing along.
All 13 songs on the new album are strong entries, though some are better than others. This does not mean the lesser songs are bad, just that the best songs truly shine. Perhaps the ugly duckling of the group is “Little Things,” written by current top 40 singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. The song does not feel authentically like One Direction and seems more like a cover than an original song.
A welcome addition to the album is the more distinct sound of the members’ British accents. With their inflections coming across clearer and fuller, One Direction injects a dose of character into “Take Me Home” not found on their debut album.
What is also refreshing about “Take Me Home” is the equal singing time for each member. On “Up All Night,” Harry Styles and Liam Payne dominated airtime, with the other three members popping in from time to time to sing a short solo. In their sophomore effort, however, almost every song features a solo from each member. Every voice sounds stronger, with a notable improvement from Louis Tomlinson. As One Direction evolves, it is nice to see each member contributing strong, even performances.
A new and notable part of “Take Me Home” is the rather suggestive language in some of the songs (alluded to in the album’s title). Lines like “tonight let’s get some” and “If you don’t wanna take this slow/If you just wanna take me home” point to a maturation of the group. They seem to shy away from the innocent puppy love of the last album, going for a slightly more PG-13 sound.
“Take Me Home” is thankfully no sophomore slump. The album is jolly good fun for One Direction fans all over the world and may even convert some nonbelievers. Arguably more fun and more complex than “Up All Night,” “Take Me Home” is the perfect combination of the members of One Direction sticking to their roots yet maturing both lyrically and sonically.