One Direction cuties (sorta) grow up on ‘Take Me Home’

onedirectiontakemehomeIf you’re too old to know what “get some” means, there may not be space in your fickle heart for five young crooners of pop deviance. The same space, for many, still holds a love for the five young Backstreets who sang “I Want It That Way” and a similar five ‘N Sync boys who said “Bye Bye Bye.” If you’re still clinging to NKOTB, you might want to say “sayonara,” too. One Direction will make fans scream yet again this year, refreshing needy young girls and gays alike to hip-swinging, foreign lip-licking nonsense to spruce their hormones with another fix of pop perfection.

One Direction’s music won’t set you free, but their image sure can. Take Me Home, the band’s second album, boasts a handful of thoughtful hits and a chrome-plated signature but also many minutes of wasted listening.

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With One Direction’s debut Up All Night having been one of the U.K.’s best-selling albums of all time, some pressure rides on the fivesome’s follow-up success. Off the bat, hearing a more mature style and narrative, more “I wanna be your last first kiss” and less “meet you after school,” shows a nice transition forward for the band.

Something’s also to be noted with the way One Direction played up their “sex factor” this time around. The sweet-cheeked, spiffy-dressed teens singing “don’t let the pictures leave your phone” and “let’s get some” from lead single “Live While We’re Young” use a cheap strategy to attract young listeners. The effect spices things up, but the band’s innocence alone used to charm so easily. This just may be the British way of producing hits, but the notion usually goes unseen in America before age 21. Harry, Zayn, Liam, Niall and Louis range between age 18 and 20

But all this dirty talk rebounds itself with “Little Things,” a track of sweet and lovely endearment written from him to her, embracing flaws and committing affections. A recent performance of the song on “The X Factor” here in the States reminded fans and foes not only of each singer’s vocal talents and harmonic abilities, but convinced critics of some true lyrical dynamics.

Anyone with ears can notice a method to this mastering of sounds: some playfully specific words about the girl’s features, a buildup to an arena chorus and some mixed harmonies with each of the band members. And let James Dean hottie Zayn riff on all the high notes. Many of the songs play in the same key, presumably to slash production efforts, but this makes them sound too much alike and fall through the cracks. This is a major flaw in the quick production of Take Me Home: an easy shortcut to rehearsing with the boys and learning the songs through a busy schedule. But tunes that generally suck (fillers “I Would,” and “Over Again”) are outshone by throwback anthem “Rock Me,” come-over-here thriller “C’mon, C’mon” and the “Ow!” sounds alone in “Heart Attack.”

“They Don’t Know About Us” rides the high-quality tides of a possible second single, too.

“I want you to hit the pedal, heavy metal, show me you care,” the boys sing in the Queen stomper “Rock Me.” There’s no metaphor more intellectual than this on Take Me Home, and no fulfillment of a concept whatsoever. So the consensus stands that there’s not one but two directions at hand: the fan who’s down to party to some feel-good melody and the onlooker who won’t indulge in juvenile pop jams. Take Me Home makes no effort to convince otherwise.