“Do you remember summer ‘09?” reminisces One Direction’s unofficial frontman Harry Styles at the beginning of the song “Rock Me.” Three years may not seem like enough time to warrant nostalgia, but for both the young band and its massive international fanbase--which predominantly consists of 15 to 16 year old fangirls—it represents a pivotal and transformative time period of adolescence and maturity. On “Take Me Home,” One Direction effortlessly returns to the formula that made them incredibly successful on their smash hit debut record “Up All Night.” However, they also demonstrate their growth as a band through new lyrical themes and a heavier arena sound perfect for their sold-out world tour next summer. A continuation of “Up All Night,” which details the innocuous feelings of falling in love at first sight, “Take Me Home” is the not-so-subtle description of what happens after.
No longer woefully singing about holding hands and tween puppy love, the boys move past the innocence of “Up All Night” and instead get straight to the point. “If you don’t wanna take it slow / And you just wanna take me home / Baby say yeah, yeah, yeah / And let me kiss you,” they sing during the group chorus of “Kiss You,” the catchiest song on the album thanks to its infectious guitar hook. While parents may raise eyebrows at the boys crooning to millions of underage girls about wanting to “get some” in their lead single “Live While We’re Young,” lyrics like this give the album an edge and help to create the unifying theme of carpe diem. The naivety of “Take Me Home” has been blatantly disposed: in addition to the lusty lyrics, the voices are grittier and the guitars are heavier.
The boys also attempt to get more personal and sentimental, but are unable to quite pull it off. Co-written by all five members, “Back For You” expresses the heartache of a troubled relationship. However, the group has far more trouble with weightier themes, as seen in lackluster lyrics like “I’ve never been so into somebody before / And every time we touch I only want more / So tell me nothing’s going to change yeah / And you won’t ever walk away yeah.” The group also calls upon British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, known for his introspective lyrics, to write two songs on the album. However, both compositions are sappy rather than poignant, and the members mimic Sheeran’s vocal inflections instead of making the songs their own.
Although their ventures into creating mushy, alternative ballads weigh down “Take Me Home” as a whole, One Direction sticks to what it does best: making catchy pop singles. While singing about more mature topics to court older fans, the boy band maintains their signature bouncy pop-rock beats for their younger followers in their up-tempo songs. “Heart Attack” features a prominent, high-pitched “Ow!” that serves as the centerpiece of the addictive chorus. Its catchy harmonized melody, jangling guitar, and obvious cheesiness will likely appeal to the group’s young fanbase.
Although One Direction’s sophomore album won’t convert new listeners into “Directioners,” “Take Me Home” is just enough to satisfy all of the fainting, Tumblr-obsessed, and emotional teenage girls across the globe and thus achieve towering sales for the boy band once again. In the end, they’re just having fun and focusing on their fans, which is something that most artists often forget to do.