Review by Bailey Garno
The facts are indisputable; the boys have done it again. One Direction’s Midnight Memories was released November 25th after a highly anticipated wait and was it ever worth it! The album, which features 18 tracks of anthemic and folk-like fun, has broken more records for the British boy band: One Direction is now the first to score a #1 hat trick on the Billboard charts since The Monkees back in the late ‘60s (who were, interestingly enough, another teen sensation). The album has received much critical acclaim: The L.A. Times calls it “the year’s most convincing rock album” and, commenting on the album’s single, “Best Song Ever,” Billboard says “This is the sort of song you just know is going to be a hit.” Indeed it seems that (almost) every track has something new and exciting to offer listeners.
Midnight Memories provides a fairly balanced mix of slow and soft (e.g. “Half a Heart,” “You and I”) versus the 80’s metal-inspired rock (“Does He Know,” “Midnight Memories”). Choosing between the former or the latter, fans would likely agree that it’s the rock that 1D does best. The weakest songs on the album, “Something Great” and “Right Now,” are of the slower type, and their weakness unfortunately reveals some very unoriginal writing (15 of the 18 tracks were written by the boys). But fans, do not despair! What is lacking in a couple tracks is overshadowed by the overall greatness of the band’s third album.
There is unmistakable 80s-influence, as mentioned earlier, but these nods are more like a tribute to the famous artists of the baby boomer generation, rather than a cop out. “Midnight Memories” has that slowed, head-rocking chorus characteristic of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me;” “Does He Know” is strikingly similar to Rick Springfield’s one-hit-wonder “Jessie’s Girl;” and “Little Black Dress” has those electric riffs I couldn’t help but compare to something off a Beatle’s album. It’s a sound that we’re all too familiar with but haven’t heard in awhile, which is why this album is something fans can jam to, and parents can appreciate.
And like these 80s hits, the tracks off of Midnight Memories are much more explicit in content than before. The album reveals a more mature side to the boy band lyrically. One Direction’s last album Take Me Home (2012) hinted at some suggestive content, typical of coming-of-age artists. But this latest album takes the plunge with songs like “Little White Lies,” and the boys aren’t looking back.
In combination with this stadium-style rock, fans will be able to catch their breath to the acoustic, folky sound also heard on the album. Critics are comparing twangy tunes like “Through the Dark” and “Happily” to another English band (and favorite of mine) Mumford & Sons; but I wouldn’t worry so much about the comparison. While the instrumental side of these tracks can be linked to the stomp-along songs of Mumford, One Direction is indisputably there with Styles’ distinct vocals and Malik’s powerful tenor. So for those that continue to scoff at the apparent success of bands and musicians who evoke frenzied screams from girls around the world, I suggest you test this album out for yourself. I guarantee you’ll catch yourself rocking along.
Recommended Songs: Happily, Midnight Memories, Alive