Despite their meteoric rise to fame and global success, Four does nothing to cement One Direction’s status as the most successful boy band since The Beatles. The aptly-titled fourth album from the band boasts a more sophisticated 70s pop-rock sound with Fleetwood Mac-esque guitar riffs and layered choruses reminiscent of Eagles’ Hotel California. On paper, this sounds like a step in the right direction (pun intended) for a maturing gaggle of floppy-haired, tattooed, painfully attractive young men, but in reality, it highlights how One Direction are awkwardly outgrowing their fan base of 13 year old girls.
The promising subtlety of new tracks like ‘Fireproof’ and ‘Fool’s Gold’ are muffled by the expectedly shouty chorus of ‘Girl Almighty’ and ‘No Control’, which only serves to make the more refined material sound like filler. In fact, the only track on the album that manages to nail the classic One Direction sing-along crowd pleaser formula, whilst still pursuing a rougher sound, is the first single ‘Steal My Girl’.
Another hint that the band are ready to move on with their music is that Louis, Niall, Harry, Zayn and Liam have been co-writing many of the songs on this album. Harry is credited on ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and Liam and Louis co-wrote ‘Fireproof’. At a guess, this seems to indicate that they are no longer willing to be a micro-managed group of X Factor clones. But, it is this image that has brought them such overwhelming success.
Overall, Four is an impressive album, but it also shows that the band are becoming increasingly out of touch with their followers.