There’s no messing with One Direction’s power on the music industry and after non-stop touring the band have released their ironically titled fourth album ‘Four”. However I’m sorry to report that this album is a bland as its title. “Stockholm Syndrome” is probably the most exciting song on this album with a HAIM influenced sound, this funky track will become an instant favourite. The energy and vocal delivery is impressive while the musical experimentation is commendable. If only all the songs on the album followed its lead. What “Four” is lacking is energy. They have become lost in their niche of trying being the anti-boyband. There is no synth driven feel good pop tracks that will ignite stadiums or top the charts or anything that sounds like the One Direction the world fell in love with. They have instead focused on being one of those “lyrically quoted” bands with a lot of emotional, honest and sometimes forced lyrics. Experimenting with folk, country and alternative these influences backed up the honesty of the lyrics. Some of these songs turned out quite well while others are repetitive and forgettable. The Ed Sheeran penned “Eighteen” is one of the slower highlights with strong harmonies and a less forced lyrical approach. New single “Night Changes” is nothing special and could be skipped along with the forgettable “Fools Gold”, “Spaces”, “Steal My Girl” and “Girls Almighty”. The country influenced “Ready To Run” impresses with its originality and constantly grows on you with each listen. “Fireproof” is another track that needs a bit of time to grow on you and will become a favourite with its natural blues flow. The upbeat “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”, and “No Control” are instant favourites with a rock influence that surprisingly suits them. “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” deserves to become a single and would commercially do well with its cheesy lyrics and feel good vibe. Album closer “Clouds” is one of my favourites on “Four” and shows a mature side of the band while projecting an anthem rock sound.
Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall and Zayn need a year off to rediscover themselves and come back to the recording studio excited and inspired. The songs on “Four” come across forced and at times the honesty is questionable. There are couple of incredible songs that will bring new highlights to their live show and have their fans stanning to the end of time but a majority of the album is average and forgettable.