x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

One Direction: Take Me Home

The vocally versatile boy band's polished, upbeat, cheerleader-friendly second album doesn't deliver any surprises.

One Direction
Take Me Home
Sony
****

The popularity of boy bands is often bewildering to those of us not in their target demographic, but One Direction's rise is particularly startling.

They were seemingly just another group created by a UK talent show, but their debut album, Up All Night, was the first by a British act to debut at No 1 on the US charts, and many now refer to them as the biggest band in the world. If you typed the letter "o" into Google a few days after last week's US election, the first result was not "Obama".

Unsurprisingly, there are no dramatic changes on One Direction's second album. Vocally versatile, the youthful quintet happily leap from frat-boy punk-pop (Kiss You) to Katy Perry-style confections (I Would), but also hark back to their homeland. There are musical nods to The Clash and Queen, while two lower-key tracks co-written by the popular English singer Ed Sheeran reference tea and "the showers that are British" - the album's most amusingly awkward lyric.

Generally, though, this is polished, upbeat, cheerleader-friendly pop: the sound of a gleeful American high school breaking up for the holidays.