One Direction isn't really a boy band.
They don't do harmonies or synchronized moves, and they rarely do dance music. On "Midnight Memories" (Columbia), they stray even further from the boy band mold, focusing more on guitar-driven rock and trading off vocal lines rather than singing in unison as a group.
It's a smart move, since these songs will certainly have a longer shelf life than most standard boy band fare and actually give the British quintet a way to continue to grow as artists into adulthood if they like. "Midnight Memories" is packed with songs that are catchy and on trend, but not so timely they will soon sound dated.
The opener, "Best Song Ever," sets the tone musically, with its roaring guitars and Clash-like yelps. Much of the album has an '80s feel, perfect for parents to reminisce while their tweens keep the CD on repeat. "Diana" welds bits of Sting-like phrasing with Richard Marx-ist glossy pop-rock. "Does He Know?" sounds like "Jessie's Girl"-era Rick Springfield. "Little Black Dress" echoes early Cheap Trick.
On the other end of the spectrum are the poppier renovations of Mumford & Sons-styled folk, especially the kickdrum-driven "Happily." In fact, the rollicking folk of "Through the Dark" and "Something Great" could easily trick some Lumineers-loving adult-alternative types, who tend to look down at One Direction's blatant pop, into thinking they were listening to the Next Big Neo-Folk Thing.
Actually, the lads carry that off so well, it may actually be where One Direction is heading next if they tire of being pop idols.
THE GRADE B
BOTTOM LINE Transitioning from boy band to, well, band.