“Take Me Home,” One Direction (Columbia)
Boy bands don’t try to win over adults, let alone critics.
They turn their laser focus on the only people in the world who matter: tween and teen girls. If they do it right, they convince these girls that, indeed, they are the only people in the world who matter.
One Direction is doing it right. Their mission is to manipulate the feelings of one of the most vulnerable demographics at their most irrational time — prepubescence and pubescence, when every word is magnified beyond reason and every emotion is unique and all-consuming. There’s no love like first love, and there’s no crush like a boy-band crush.
The British quintet — for the record, Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall and Zayn — blew up already this year with the No. 1 debut “Up All Night,” and they’re working in a quick sophomore release, the new “Take Me Home,” before launching into a tour for much of 2013. (You have to strike fast with these girls because they’re a fickle lot.)
“Take Me Home” follows the formula with a healthy mix of studio polish and earnest vocals from the guys. Several tracks have across-the-board appeal, from the chunky-beat opening track “Live While We’re Young” through to the bittersweet closer “Summer Love” and including in-between songs like the love-you-forever “Last First Kiss” (“Let me be your last first kiss”) and the flowery “Over Again” (“My kiss can mend your broken heart”). The hooks are generally good, and the vocals aren’t bad. Plus there’s an amusing spin on a Queen riff on “Rock Me.”
As the guys anxiously make their melodramatic pitch, jaded (i.e. older) listeners will groan and roll their eyes. One Direction wants to show off their girls to all their friends (“Kiss You”) but also make their relationships “our little secret” (“They Don’t Know About Us”). And there are a couple of hints that they’re looking for something more ... have fantasy, will travel.
But adults, be kind. Ultimately, these guys are OK.
Besides, fans will say you don’t understand that One Direction is way cuter, way more talented, way more sincere than ‘N Sync, New Kids on the Block or any other dinosaurs your trot out for comparison. (And these girls will never understand that you do understand.)
So just be understanding and let them have this. They’ll be over it before you can say “Jonas Brothers.”
Rating (five possible): 3