Review: Midnight Memories, One Direction #MusicMonday

Monday, November 25, 2013

One Direction Midnight Memories
source: One Direction's Facebook page
I wasn't going to do a full-fledged post on One Direction's latest album "Midnight Memories," but after giving it a thrice-over, I realized that I actually like this album. A lot. While I've been a fan of theirs since their time on "The X Factor UK" in 2010, I always said I was more of a fan of them as a group than I was of their music. I liked their previous album "Take Me Home" just fine and barely put up with their debut "Up All Night." "Midnight Memories" is the first album I genuinely like for the music, and I'm kind of relieved that they're moving in a direction that I can finally relate to. You know, being that I'm like a decade out of their target demographic and all.

Like the previous albums, "Midnight Memories" was recorded and released about a year from the previous one ("Up All Night" being released about a year after the group first began appearing on television). At this rate -- and considering the group's been touring all along -- one can only really expect a mediocre album. The teen idols of the late '90s released an album every 2 years or 18 months, at best, and at the rate One Direction's people is working them, I wouldn't at all be surprised if the boys crashed and burned soon.

But hey, at least the music is getting better. "Midnight Memories" has a very different underlying sound that comes across as more of a mood than a distinctive quality. Their previous albums both had a decidedly teenage, house party-like feel to them, and although "Take Me Home" included a few heartfelt acoustic ballads, the album was very much in the same field as "Up All Night." "Midnight Memories" is a totally different ballgame, as far as pop music goes.

As a whole, "Midnight Memories" is much airier, and more serious, than its predecessors, and features much more rock and folk influences than dance. Even where the beats are virtual replicas of previous tunes ("Diana," "Little White Lies"), the instrumentals give the songs a mellower flair. There's something extremely nostalgic about the essence of this album, a nostalgia I feel is more of an inside joke or homage on the producers' part than it is intended for the group's young fans. The name "Midnight Memories" itself intimates an act of reflection, in comparison to such in-the-moment names as "Up All Night" and "Take Me Home."

To me, when it doesn't sound like it's striving to be U2 ("Right Now," "Something Great") or Mumford and Sons ("Happily," "Through The Dark"), "Midnight Memories" sounds highly reminiscent of much of the pop music coming out of the United Kingdom in the early-to-mid '90s ("Strong," "Don't Forget Where You Belong"-- which funny enough, was written by 1D member Niall Horan and early '00s English boy band McFly). And though it's all something borrowed, for a young boy band, it's somehow innovative and refreshing.

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