One Direction are without a doubt the biggest boyband in the world right now. Since appearing on The X Factor back in 2010 the band has sold more than 14 million albums worldwide and enjoyed success across the globe. Their 2013 album Midnight Memories topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and sold over 4.1 million copies worldwide. Now the five-piece are back with new album Four.
Four’s lead single Steal My Girl has so far peaked at number 3 in the charts and the band have supported the single by releasing several instant-grat tracks to fans who pre-ordered the album on iTunes. The performance of Steal My Girl led some critics to claim the end of the band is nigh but the lead singles from their last two albums didn’t hit the top spot either and the album sales were still strong.
Critics have been predicting the end of One Direction for years but on the strength of Four there’s much more to come from the band yet. For the most part they’ve worked with songwriters Jamie Scott, John Ryan and Julian Bunetta – the team behind their smash-hit single Story of My Life. Looking at the album credits the band has been fairly involved with the songwriting too with Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne notching up the most co-writes.
Four features a more grown up sound from One Direction. It’s much more in the direction of Little Things and Story of My Life than it is Best Song Ever. The band members are maturing and that is definitely reflected in this body of work. Ready To Run bears some similarities to Avicii’s Wake Me Up with its acoustic riffs which make way for a soaring chorus, the type of which One Direction have perfected the past few years.
Elsewhere on the album the band visit the 80s for the catchy Stockholm Syndrome, sing the words of Ed Sheeran on highlight 18, and show off their vocals over acoustic melodies on Fool’s Gold. No Control is one of the most uptempo tracks on the record and pays homage to some of the band’s earlier rowdier hits such as Live While We’re Young.
Vocally the band sounds the best they have too. Zayn Malik in particular has turned into a superb vocalist and his soulful tone really stands out from the other members of the band.
Four is without a doubt the most mature album that One Direction has recorded. They still have the spark that made them an international phenomenon but they are starting to find their comfort zone and playing to their strengths. Four suggests that One Direction are moving into the next phase of their careers and for our money it’s their strongest material yet.