It's time to make some memories.
Do you hear that faint rumbling in the distance? That's the collective high-pitched shriek of Directioners worldwide combined with the thunderous roar of a million furious Tumblr reblogs and RTs for Brazil: That's right, the boys of One Direction have returned.
After formally launching their global takeover with 2011's Up All Night, followed by their 2012 follow-up Take Me Home, everyone's favorite reality TV finalists-turned-international superstars are back for a third year in a row with a new album: Midnight Memories. (Um, also, does anyone else notice the progressive spiciness of their album titles? I do not even WANT to know what the next one's called! LOL JK, I totally do.)
It's only been a year since their last studio effort, but the boys' sound has changed drastically.
For one thing, they're not really boys anymore. You might even say they've gone from Boyz II Men. (BOY BAND HUMO(U)R.) No, but really, it's not just the fact that most of them can now grow facial hair -- the music's matured a l'il bit, too!
For one thing, they've become more involved in the actual writing process -- nearly every song on the album features at least one of their names in the songwriting credits. And, as opposed to the crunchy Carl Falk & Rami-produced power-pop of radio smashes like "What Makes You Beautiful," "One Thing" and "Live While We're Young," the band's veered into slightly rockier, "edgier" territory, navigating through classic and modern rock influences like Mumford & Sons, Def Leppard, and The Police.
They've still got a bunch of familiar names on the record -- including Graffiti6 frontman Jamie Scott ("Story Of My Life," "Diana") and the boys of fellow U.K. boy-banders McFly ("Don't Forget Where You Belong") -- as well as a few new ones, like Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody ("Something Great"). The lyrics have gotten slightly more deeper and reflective -- sure, they've got their fair share of swoon-filled love ditties, but there's also some major tour exhaustion and pensiveness about their own legacy as artists.
Midnight Memories certainly seems like the boys' first attempt at getting serious as a band, and the results are varied. Did it all pan out? Well, words are useless, especially sentences, so let's dig through this triumph track-by-track the way the true music scholars and Beethoven/ Mozart types intended -- with 1D GIFs!
1.) "BEST SONG EVER"
And we're off! "Best Song Ever" kicks off the pop quintet's third set. Y'all love it. You know it. I know it. Harry Styles knows it. It's got the same reliable power-pop stomp that the boys have always served up to get us dancing all night, resulting in a pretty perfect intro before the album departs into their heavier (well, relatively speaking) output. Is "Best Song Ever" truly One Direction's best song ever? I'm not entirely sure, but it is good! Maybe something more like "A Very Good Song In The Grand Scheme Of Things."
2.) "STORY OF MY LIFE"
But wait, what's this? Yes, it's time for #SomethingMorePersonal! The album's second single "Story Of My Life" is the first time the boys are giving you a real taste of their new sound. Ready to dance? Too bad! Wait, what? Yes: Contemplative balladry along a Mumford-ish folk guitar strum is the flavor of today. And it's really good! The lyrics get pretty heavy in moments -- "seems to me that when I die these words will be written on my stone" (GULP!) -- and those harmonies certainly provide a chill or two. Best of all, the boys all worked on penning this one, so you know it comes from the heart and all that. BRB...crying forever.
Oh! Well, "Diana" is certainly an instant anthem, right? It's like The Police-era '80's rock with a bit of a modern pop gloss, sort of like what Bruno Mars did with "Locked Out Of Heaven" last year. "Diana, let me be the one to light a fire those eyes!" the boys croon. For every Directioner named Diana (or any Directioner who soon decides to legally change their name upon hearing this), this is truly your midnight memory for the rest of your life.
4.) "MIDNIGHT MEMORIES"
A-ha! Title track! This one's rowdy little YOLO anthem, giving some Kaiser Chiefs-lite "I Predict A Riot" realness. "Same ol' sh**, but a different day." Oop! Cover your ears, children -- the boys are finally coming hard and fast for that PG-13 rating. "Midnight Memories" pounds your speakers with a massive, Queen-like chant of chorus -- just like Take Me Home's "Rock Me." "Midnight memories (ooh!) Baby, you and me, stumbling in the street!" Oh, do behave, boys.
5.) "YOU AND I"
Well, this one's really lovely: "You and I" is a moderately sparse, us-against-the-world sort of guitar ballad, with the kind of power-pop chorus that makes you believe you can, like, move mountains or whatever: "You and I, we don't want to be like them / We can make it 'til the end," the boys achingly pledge. Also, that tender high note at the three-minute mark? All of the tears. Yes, this is a good one.
Check out more One Direction Midnight Memories GIFs after the jump!
6.) "DON'T FORGET WHERE YOU BELONG"
"Don't Forget Where You Belong," which was co-penned by the boys of McFly, sounds sort of like an excerpt from sweet, sweet Niall's tour diary: "Don't forget where you belong, home / If you ever feel alone, don't / You were never on your own / And the proof is in this song," they croon across the soaring MOR midtempo. It's fine, just very...rock ballad.
Louis cowrote "Strong," another MOR rock-pop album track about being in lurve -- so in lurve, that he can't even see straight. "When I'm not with you I'm weaker. Is that so wrong, is it so wrong?" they agonize. Well, YES boys -- that condition is called co-dependency and can lead to ALL sorts of crippling emotional problems in the near future. But, hey, you're all so damn young and cute! Just, like, go hang out with your friends or something. This one's pretty great. (Also, #Larry enthusiasts, is this secretly about Harry? OMG!)
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Carl Falk-produced, Harry Styles-copenned album track "Happily" is an obvious standout — and also totally Lumineers/Mumford-ish in a fairly surprising way. "I don't care what people say when we're together!" they cry out on the shout-y, jangly chorus, serving you some "Ho Hey" teas. The track's full of hand claps, foot stomps and twangy banjo -- grab a partner and do-si-do, if anyone knows how to do that!
9.) "RIGHT NOW"
It was only a matter of time before One Direction linked up with OneRepublic's pop hit-maker Ryan Tedder -- and that time is "Right Now." (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) Clearly, the boys are missing some pretty special someones in their life while they're out on tour: The midtempo ode to the ever-exhausting life on the road is exactly what you'd expect with this kind of merger, featuring a striding beat and a giant swell of a teary-eyed chorus ("Right now, I wish you were here with me").
10.) "LITTLE BLACK DRESS"
"Little Black Dress"! What?! Those jagged electric guitar licks, that '80s arena rock sound — is this their "Pour Some Sugar On Me" moment? Erm, well....not quite, but it is a little more rowdy offering than their usual affair. "I wanna see the way you move for me, baby!" they chant across the fiery chorus. This one's a shortie, clocking in at a little more than 2 and a half minutes -- but hey, it's still enough to inspire some saucy air humping.
11.) "THROUGH THE DARK"
Oop! It's time for another Mumford & Sons-themed midnight memory with "Through The Dark." Feeling discouraged? Well, don't, because Liam and Louis (who co-penned this folky inspirational anthem) pledge that they'll always be there for you: "Don't burn out, even if you scream and shout," they plead. (Brit Brit thanks you for the #ScreamAndShoutPromo, bbs!) With all this twangy geetar business and soulful croonin', are the 1D boys coming for that bluegrass radio crossover crown? Perhaps, yes.
12.) "SOMETHING GREAT"
Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody arrives on the scene for "Something Great," a sort of good, mostly rambling MOR guitar midtempo. It's Snow Patrol-esque for sure, but this track sounds somewhat dated and deflated for such a lively l'il boy band, no? "I want to rip it all to shreds and start it all over again," they croon. Sadly, the boys might want to follow through with that plan.
13.) "LITTLE WHITE LIES"
We've already had "Little Black Dress," so why not "Little White Lies" to follow-up? The boys are hardcore swoonin', and they know you want it: "If this room was burning, I wouldn't even notice / 'Cause you been taking up my mind with your little white lies," they croon on the guitar-led stomper. It's got that familiar One Direction crunch, with a bit of an '80s arena-rock twist. It's a nice pop of energy to contrast to the folkier offerings that keep the album dragging in the middle.
14.) "BETTER THAN WORDS"
Well, OK! This is the last hurrah: "Better Than Words" almost sounds like a more subdued response to Take Me Home's "Heart Attack," complete with a howling chorus ("A-woo!") and a propulsive guitar pulse. "I can't explain your love, it's better than words!" See? Even 1D thinks words are dumb. GIFs are simply the way to go! And that's the end of another 1Dmensional experience. Thanks for the memories, boys!
Photo credit: Columbia Records