One Direction “Midnight Memories” Review: Too Many Directions

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One Direction’s new album tries a few too many things, pulling some off well and some not at all.

Comparing One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” to Lady Gaga’s recent “ARTPOP” might seem like almost a cop-out from a critic who doesn’t know anything about pop music. And it is (hi!). But there are some similarities between the two – not in sound, but in ambition and the execution of it. Gaga’s album started strong before faltering into a less than memorable territory. Some songs, seemingly at random, still worked in the album’s latter half. Same here – the album’s second half is largely forgettable but occasional moments work.

The opening song and leadoff single, “Best Song Ever” isn’t overly catchy and relies more on it’s witty premise of singing about dancing to the best song ever – except that that’s a concept already done by Tenacious D, of all bands. The next three songs, fellow hit “Story of My Life,” “Diana” and the title track, are much stronger, all benefiting from a guitar-based rhythm instead of beats (the 80’s throwback isn’t hurting either). Somewhere around the sixth song, “Don’t Forget Where You Belong,” is where it starts to slip. Although only one second over the four minute mark, the song sounds relatively endless and is, in a bit of horrible irony, forgettable.

After that, it gets wildly scattershot. Club beats suddenly start to make appearances more than halfway through the album. “Happily” and “Little Black Dress” are catchy little tunes, while “Through the Dark” and “Something Great” are, again with the poor, poor irony, just unnecessary songs. And the album’s penultimate song, “Little White Lies” suddenly ramps up the big synth beats that defines most pop acts, as if they forgot to put it on a previous album.

Look, I’m a twenty-three year old man, this isn’t my forte. I took a break halfway through this album to listen to some Andrew Jackson Jihad instead. I’m sure fans are already eating this album up. One Direction is one of those bands big enough that their reviews aren’t going to sway their album sales in the slightest. So, to sum up, the band tries a number of new ideas, and they should be commended for that alone. They take their music in a number of (ugh) new directions. While the album’s former half is surprisingly diverse and memorable, the latter half just isn’t that catchy, and when pop songs aren’t catchy then they’re almost automatically forgettable. The band’s steps forward are enough to bolster “Midnight Memories,” and the album’s mere existence is enough for people to buy it. If you’re already salivating over these guys, then you’ll love this. If you’re a moderate fan then you’ll probably be intrigued by the different steps they take (also who are you?), and if you’re not a fan, then thanks for reading this far, might I instead recommend the new Death Grips album?

I’m a failure.

Grade: C+/B-

-By Andrew McNally

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