One Direction kick it up a notch on their third album, Midnight Memories . After three years of conquering the globe singing someone else's songs, the boys in the band get some skin in the game on their latest by lending a songwriting hand this time around.
From "Story of My Life" to "Diana," "Happily" and "Right Now," Liam, Harry, Louis, Zayn and Niall contribute something to nearly every track on a disc with songs co-written with OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody.
The release mixes their signature sugary pop sensibility with some more meat-and-potatoes rock edge and a sound that is just begging for some clapping hands in the air audience participation at their sold-out gigs.
But what do the critics think of Memories?
Cheeky And Swaggy With A Bon Jovi Twist
"Essentially, Midnight Memories is all a little lustier and more tub-thumping than before, and aimed so squarely at the biggest music market in the world that Britain's proudest pop exports sometimes lapse into fake American accents, yelp in the background and sing 'awoooo' like they're dreaming of Bon Jovi."
Add in some acoustic guitars, some Mumford & Sons style troubadour style and a bit of majestic Coldplay throttle and you have the, "kind of pop rock that has been a mainstay of the American charts for decades, polished off with echoing drums and rammed home with the cheeky brio of five young men who know they are on to a winner." — Neil McCormick, Daily Telegraph
Pounding Sports-Arena Beats Abound
"Midnight Memories, which peaks with the pop-rock winners 'Best Song Ever' and 'Diana,' will sell. And yet the fans, assertive as they are online, won't see their lives reflected in it — beyond picturing themselves in the embraces teased throughout. Bizarrely, for an album by guys born in the early '90s, it's '80s hard rock that Midnight celebrates. The title track sounds like Def Leppard's 'Pour Some Sugar on Me,' criminally de-boogied; pounding sports-arena beats and guitar riffs a centerfold short of raunchy dominate." — Nick Catucci, Entertainment Weekly
An Impressive Sense Of Flow And Cohesion
"This album is one of the catchiest albums of the year. It's as sugar-coated as music can be, and yes, its depth is comparable to a kiddie pool, but 1D have put together a collection of potential chart-toppers that demands your full attention and plenty of repeat listens ... Each track off Midnight Memories either falls into the category of wall-of-sound pop hit (usually with thumping bass) or heartfelt quasi-ballad (often complete with thumping bass).
Neither is a bad thing, especially when you have the kind of money for production and songwriting 1D can afford ... One Direction are in the business of singles and branding, but they've put extra effort into formulating a record that plays well from beginning to end ... I cannot speak to the quality of every album in their catalog, but Midnight Memories is one of those rare gifts from the pop music gods that plays great as both an album and individual tracks. — James Shotwell, Under The Gun Review
A Mature, Guitar-Driven Sound
"It's fair to say that there's little of the pure pop that defined their debut Up All Night and follow-up Take Me Home. In fact, the majority of Midnight Memories can be divided up into one of two categories — folksy acoustic numbers obviously inspired by the likes of Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers et al., and as indicated by its tongue-in-cheek The Who-inspired lead single, 'Best Song Ever,' air guitar anthems that wouldn't sound out of place in the 'Rock Of Ages' musical. ...
'Little Black Dress' suggests Harry Styles has now embraced his mini-Mick Jagger label with its swaggering vintage The Rolling Stones-esque production; while a boyband certainly no stranger to the world of guitars, McFly, help to provide the album's big lighters-in-the-air moment with the 'stay grounded' epic, 'Don't Forget Where You Belong.' ... Despite the occasional lapse into the whole 'new boring' movement therefore, Midnight Memories is still an enjoyable, if surprisingly retro, listen which suggests One Direction's position at the top of the boyband chain is assured for at least another year.
— Jon O'Brien, Yahoo! UK