Since I'm reviewing some other records, I decided to go back and dive into One Direction's newest release, Four (which is coincidentally their fourth record). Going into this record is more of an experience considering I hadn't heard anything from it, apart from Fireproof, and was skeptical for the most part.
To be fair, I did mention in a review of their previous album, Midnight Memories, in which they went in a direction of 'rock' but never really seized it with their grasps. With this new album though, they seemed to have taken a slight turn with their music while still not really making a new leaf out of the problems in the previous release. What does this mean? Well, a couple of things.
Firstly, the first three tracks straight out of the gate, titled: Steal My Girl, Ready to Run and Where Do Broken Hearts Go (not the original by Whitney Houston - though hell, I'd like to hear their version for it.) pack a nice little combo. They never loosen up, and instead gears up towards the mid-section and just steamrolls over with excellent vocal work and impressive production, albeit overshadowing the band's capabilities. The nice blend of voice between all five members are distinct and can be found all over the record, and nothing sounds genuinely forced and all comes together pretty neatly. The only complaint that I really have for the three tracks would soon follow in the footsteps for the rest of the album, and to be fair, you have heard somewhat enough.
Secondly, the lyrical work for the album does seem to impact more than just the simple grading, and that is always nice to hear. Especially when most tracks have the band member's handprints written all over them. One perfect example to put you through is the track Spaces, which is an indication of the band's maturity at this point, though overall the album doesn't really pull the same roots (Steal My Girl does have cringe-worthy lyrics). While on one hand the lyrics improve tremendously, on the other they hand they don't really seem to blow up to anything.
Thirdly, the production is secondary, but does steal the show (ha) from the boys on tracks like the first three and on the latter three (Spaces, Stockholm Syndrome and Clouds). On the previous record, there were lacklustre tracks that seemed to bleed from the feet and doesn't carry the punch heading into the finale moments. On this album though, the tracks are much stronger in production, seem to be more liberal and have better album shots rather than heading straight for the headlights with songs that will translate into singles sooner or later.
However, not all tracks are incredibly amazing as they seemed to pull the weight along from their previous record, as stated above. Tracks like Fireproof, 18, and especially Girl Almighty just seem to lose focus on all fronts and dissipate rather quickly. It is terribly inconsistent around the middle pack of songs. But you also do understand that on stripped down tracks such as Night Changes, the band's vocal prowess takes over and really shakes things up. Looking on here out, I can already see the major improvements dragging from their previous release, Midnight Memories, albeit slowly and cautious ones.
The tendency for love tracks to feel exaggerated may seem to be bulletproof for the band, but sometimes it's good to just tone it down. I really can't find much faults in this album.
Favourite Tracks: Spaces, Night Changes, Where Do Broken Hearts Go
Least Favourite Tracks: Fireproof, 18, Girl Almighty
One Direction may not have been a popular choice for most people, but hey, I listen to music and not reactions. Four is a great step forward, though issues needed to be address, but otherwise, is a step up from their previous release on a whole.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.