While even the most passionate One Direction fans would struggle to sincerely call the boy band dynamic, they would have no trouble arguing that the quintet is at least occasionally willing to explore forms of music beyond the bubblegum dance party anthem.
The easiest proof? “Little Things,” a low-key ballad from 2012 album “Take Me Home.”
An Ed Sheeran co-write that sounds more like a saccharine Ed Sheeran song than one of the group’s signature party tunes, “Little Things” became an instant fan favorite for the group of former UK “X Factor” contestants. And though it failed to live up to the commercial standard set by jams like “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Live While We’re Young,” it performed admirably in securing a platinum certification and radio support from key US stations.
With new release “Story of My Life,” One Direction continues its foray out of the more predictable shackles of boy band pop.
Unmistakably “One Direction” with its familiar lyrical themes and melodic tendencies, it is far from a radical departure. When push comes to shove, it is very clearly a One Direction pop song.
But where previous “Midnight Memories” single and “This is Us” concert film anthem “Best Song Ever” echoed the band’s previous, successful efforts in chord-driven pop, “Story of My Life” relies on the folky vocal crescendos and percussion escalations that have become increasingly prominent in modern rock and alternative.
At least superficially comparable to English band Mumford & Sons and ascending Irish act Kodaline, “Story of My Life” appeals to a duality of listener preferences. The alt-rock sound is One Direction’s thinly-veiled attempt to show doubters its musical range and maturity, while the controlled vocals and instrumentation offer a vibe of sensitivity and sentimentality for a rabid fanbase that craves a deeper connection to 1D.
A necessary departure from prototype to avoid redundancy and demonstrate growth, its distance from the usual One Direction sound nonetheless makes commercial success harder to predict. Creative reception will be similarly murky; while 1D diehards will incorporate “Story” into their arsenal of proof that the quintet possesses maturing artistic talent, non-fans might find the effort hollow and insufficient when juxtaposed against the aforementioned folk-alt sensations.
But only you can provide your reaction; render that reaction by listening below: