January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 42°F


Review: Boy band finds mature sound with ’80s-style rock album

One Direction

Midnight Memories

It’s time to rock — with a boy band. One Direction’s third album, “Midnight Memories,” is packed with guitar-fueled anthems that could have been pulled straight out of the ’80s and showcases not only a maturity in the boys’ sound, but also in their songwriting.

Fifteen out of the 18 tracks on the deluxe version of the album were co-written by at least one of the members, like the standout track “Happily,” which was co-written by band member Harry Styles, as well as Savan Kotecha and Carl Falk. This folk-rock tune features a twangy banjo and foot-stomping chorus, reminiscent of a Mumford & Sons song, and is a complete 180 turn from the electronic, dance sounds repeatedly found on the band’s previous two albums.

The title track, “Midnight Memories,” is a sexy, rocking good time. Heavy with drum beats and a swanky electric guitar, the boys seem to be channeling their inner Def Leppard. This is also the closest these 19–22-year-olds have come to cursing, with lines such as “People talk shhh/ But we don’t listen,” insinuating they are not yet ready to take the plunge from being tween-friendly to a serious band.

With four extra songs, the deluxe version is worth the extra money. The sexy and much more mature rock anthem “Alive” has a similar beat to Free’s hit from the ’70s, “All Right Now.” The band sings about living “for tonight” while a pounding drum accompanies them. The track is so catchy it should be on the regular album to improve its rock feel.

There is not a bad song on this album, as the boys prove their growth as performers and songwriters. Even those who scoff at the idea of a boy band trying to rock should do themselves a favor and give this album a listen.