Everyone likes to say that the boys of One Direction “are like 18 years old or something.” So, just for clarification: Zayn (the bad boy) is 19, Liam (the motherly one) is 19, Niall (the Irish one) is 19, Louis (the goofy one) is 20 and Harry (the cougar hunter) is almost 19. Knowing that they’re all (basically) legal will make you feel less creepy when you listen to their latest effort, “Take Me Home,” and realize that, um, yeah – you probably would take them home.
The tween dream team known as One Direction sang and danced their way across the pond with “What Makes You Beautiful,” which everyone knows the words to even if they think they don’t. 1D (as millions of screaming girls like to call them) has since successfully resurrected the boy band movement, perfected the art of bubblegum pop and plastered their faces on girls’ walls, lockers, computer desktop screens and math folders, making them not only the best-dressed British boys around, but also probably the richest.
It’s hard to take 1D seriously, because they’re always hopping around to lyrics such as “Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy ‘til we see the sun / I know we only met but let’s pretend it’s love” and also because they call themselves “1D,” but underneath the fabulous hair (Harry) and the fabulous vest-and-skinny-jeans combo (Liam), the best/worst thing about One Direction is that they’re actually talented.
The opener, “Live While We’re Young,” tries to recapture the dance-y, hand-clappy catchiness of “What Makes You Beautiful,” but it’s borderline too cheesy (even for a boy band who found megastardom by comparing girls to kryptonite and filming videos where they hit the town on double-decker buses). Much better is “Kiss You,” with its hair-flip friendly chorus, “yeah-ee-yeahs” and kind-of-maybe sexual innuendo (“If you don’t want to take it slow / And you just want to take me home”).
Taylor Swift’s new BFF Ed Sheeran pinned two of the songs on the album, the first being gag-me cute acoustic “Little Things,” which capitalizes again on that “we will love you even with your imperfections” sugary sweetness that won so many hearts in the first place. Plus, it reminds voluntary and involuntary listeners that the boys (at least the Irish one) can play instruments (at least the guitar). When girls are done fantasizing their first middle school slow dance with “Little Things,” 1D goes back to the “you are cute, I am cute, let’s dance together” formula with “C’mon, C’mon.” It’s head nod level catchy, but pales in comparison to some of their better tunes.
One Direction pretends like they’ve ever been friend-zoned with “Last First Kiss,” in which they ask a girl friend if they can be her “last, yeah, baby let me be your last first kiss” but “first, yeah, wanna be the first to take it all the way like this.” It’s going to make girls scream and cry and crowd-sway, but it’s just not entirely believable that girls would choose anyone over tattooed romantic Zayn or super-flirt Harry.
“Heart Attack” follows, and it’s easily the catchiest song on the CD. Just listen to it once or twice or 38,564 times and try not to giggle every time Niall (according to this fan-made lyric video) yelps, “Owww!”
“Take Me Home” hits a bit of a lull after that, but the boys try to spice things up by teaching girls how to spell (“R-O-C-K me” in “Rock Me,” and “Would he say that he’s in L-O-V-E?” in “I Would”), winning them over with more swoon-worthy ballads (the guitar-y “Change My Mind” and echo-y Ed Sheeran song number two,“Over You”) and then hitting one more high note (the singalong-y “Back for You”) before closing out on kind of a low note. The double-hitter ending of “They Don’t Know About Us” and “Summer Love” isn’t bad, it’s just not as strong as the infectious beginning of the album.
“Take Me Home” does a better job of showcasing all the boys’ voices, which is a smart move because every girl in America (and maybe the world) has chosen her favorite boy by now (dibbs on Liam). Watch any behind-the-scenes clips or interviews (for, uh, research), and you can tell that although 1D seems so manufactured it could put you in a candy-coated coma, the boys have a genuine bromance.
Let’s get real: “Take Me Home” was never going to flop. At the very worst, it would disappoint some Directioners and warrant a year or two break for the boys while they “evolved” their sound. Luckily for girls who need new sleepover dance party material and moms looking to listen to something other than Justin Bieber in the SUV, “Take Me Home” is a fun, fast and totally guilty pleasure material.
Speakeasy rating: B
“Take Me Home”
Recommended tracks: “Kiss You,” “Last First Kiss,” “Heart Attack”
Skip over: None of it. Seriously.
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