0.5 stars (out of four)
As the latest standard bearers of both the British Invasion and boy band mania, One Direction excels at generating excitement. In particular, the group creates pandemonium in every label executive's favorite form—record sales—which means that “Take Me Home,” the quick follow-up to the group's wildly popular debut, “Up All Night,” is inevitably a bit of a cash grab.
There's nothing wrong with an artist trying to sell records, of course, but rarely does it feel quite this cynical. Almost every song on “Take Me Home” appears carefully engineered to stick to a three-minute run time and the same strict structural formula, in which two verses crescendo into forgettable choruses. Inexplicably, the sonic palette chosen for this can't-lose endeavor falls somewhere between a clubbier Snow Patrol and a dull rendition of “Tubthumping” (although the comparison is unfair to both Snow Patrol and Chumbawamba).
Lyrically, One Direction rarely rises above the basic constructs of yeah-yeah choruses or weak relationship aphorisms that, despite frequently using the club as a backdrop, are likely to sound cliché to middle-schoolers. When the group does switch things up, it's often to revisit the vaguely patronizing girl-you-deserve-better theme of their breakout single “What Makes You Beautiful,” with lyrics such as “You’ll never treat yourself right darling, but I want you to” on “Little Things.” While they may be presented as heartthrobs, the boys of One Direction ultimately come off seeming much more like the kind of creepy, “sensual” guy who's always offering to give back rubs. “Take Me Home” is an equally empty gesture.
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic
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