fri 14/08/2020

CD: One Direction - Four | reviews, news & interviews

CD: One Direction - Four

CD: One Direction - Four

Wherein it's asked whether the MOR tendencies of 1D's fourth album are wise

Rich, manly boys with tattoos x2

The five lads who comprise the biggest slice of Simon Cowell’s pension fund are back with the follow up to last year’s Midnight Memories. One Direction, are not, in all fairness, canvassing my vote with new album Four. In fact, on the basis of this new collection of songs, they’re doorstepping eight-year-old girls to ask whether their mum’s in.

1D have long had a knack of delivering songs that sound, in part, like already established hits, however the reference points here seem less pop and more… well, MOR. Single "Steal My Girl" has a piano introduction that echoes Meat Loaf, before the phrasing, all upset schoolboy gasp-gulps, gives way to a studied clapalong not a million miles away from "You’re the Voice" by John Farnham. Yep, John Farnham. "Broken Hearts", meanwhile, comes dressed as "Heaven is a Place on Earth", sung from the perspective of a regretful, cheating, teenage asshat, and "Fool’s Gold" occasionally glints with Joshua Tree-era U2 guitar flourishes.

It’s all nice enough and perfectly polished, until…

Ed Sheeran has a writing credit on surefire single "18", which will be why it gradually builds, layer on layer, with all the grace of a jobbing brickie with an eye on the clock, and then there’s "Stockholm". Wow! This look at relationships through the unlikely prism of Stockholm Syndrome sent me scuttling off to see whether Richard Madeley had been credited as "Concept Advisor". It’s alarmingly poor.

In truth, the Absolute 80s-infused songs here are no worse than Mumford & Sons, Take That or Coldplay – all of whom cover much the same ground in terms of overblown dynamics and tautly scripted emotion. The problem is that they offer no real escape, other than kids imagining themselves belting out the self-same tunes on The X-Factor in two series’ time which, frankly, shows a crushing paucity of ambition all round. Everything here is a guaranteed, focus-grouped, nailed-on hit – nothing has been left to chance, instinct or gut feeling. And that's pretty much what it's lacking – instinct, guts and feeling. That's a shame. And also not very pop.

Overleaf: Watch the video for "Steal My Girl"

The songs here are no worse than Mumford & Sons, Take That or Coldplay

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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