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The Only Way is Up for these Boys!
Up All Night - One Direction
Member Name: SmoothCriminal
Up All Night - One Direction
Advantages: Great vocals, fun-uptempos, infectious hooks and impeccable production
Disadvantages: One weak track
The band are at their best when delivering up-tempo pop-rock, a genre that fits their voices and harmonies perfectly. 'What Makes You Beautiful' is an infectious love song with an instant, sing-a-long melody. The guitar riff sounds a little like Summer Nights from the Grease Soundtrack, which rather than being derivative, actually helps evoke the warm feel-good sentiments of young love. 'One Thing' is without a doubt, one of the best on the album. The production on the song is similar to 'What Makes You Beautiful', in that it has pounding drums, a simple guitar line and subtle synths that compliment he soaring chorus. The simple chorus of "Get out, get out, get out of my head, and fall into my arms instead/I don't know what it is, but you've got that one thing" is an instant earworm, and is a track that will have you returning to it over and over again. The title-track, 'Up All Night' is a little more synth heavy, and distances itself a little from the pop-rock sound of the album. The song has some questionable lyrics that may make you wince a little bit ("Katy Perry's on replay, she's on replay"), but for the most part, it is a fun party song about being young and living for the moment.
The album dabbles a little in contemporary dance-sounds, which thankfully, does not overpower the overriding sound of the album. 'Save You Tonight' was produced by RedOne - Lady Gaga's most famous collaborator. The song has some great vocal harmonies, which really shows off their vocal ability. "I can't be no superman, but for you I'd be superhuman" they sing on the chorus of a song about unconditional love for someone who refuses to acknowledge you. The addictive track is distinctly American in its production, so 'Stole My Heart' provides a little balance, in that it is more British in terms of production. Another dance track, it boasts writing credits from the boys, as crashing synths make for the surprisingly perfect club song. "Under the lights tonight, I turned around and you stole my heart" Harry sings in an impressive falsetto. Without a doubt, a hidden gem on the album.
'Up All Night' for the most part, sticks within the parameters of Kelly Clarkson-influenced pop-rock. In fact, it boasts her as a lead writer on 'Tell Me A Lie' - possibly my favourite One Direction song yet. "Tell me I'm a screwed up mess, that I never listen/Tell me you don't want my kiss, that you need your distance", they sing on the infectious chorus. The lyrics on the track are slightly more clever than you'd expect, with the hook concluding with the line "If he's the reason that you're leaving me here tonight, spare me what you think and tell me a lie." The album offers some surprisingly mature moments, lyrically speaking, amongst the young love sentiment of the album's lead single. 'Taken', produced by Toby Gad (responsible for Beyoncé's 'If I Were a Boy') takes a cue from the song's production in a slow-building acoustic up-tempo, which is built around the line - "you only want me when I'm taken". When the production is stripped back a little more, you will definitely be impressed by the boys' vocal talents, which sound strong and confident, but full of emotion, without the need of auto-tune enhancements.
The album possesses only three ballads, with 'More Than This' being a clear highlight. It evokes some of the Backstreet Boys best love songs, with a heart-breaking delivering accompanying a simple acoustic guitar but glossy synths, which keep the song sounding contemporary enough for radio. "When he opens his arms and holds you close tonight, it just won't feel right/'cause I can love you more than this" they sing on the powerful chorus. Without a doubt, one of their best. 'Gotta Be You' is pretty dramatic, with its sweeping strings and powerful percussion. While I disagree with it as the album's second single, I do love the song and the boys' use of falsetto.
'Up All Night' manages to cover all bases, experimenting in enough genres to keep the album diverse but not too scattered or eclectic. It is mature enough to have appeal beyond its target age group, and has some surprisingly eloquent and emotional moments on the tracks which possess the boys' co-writes. 'Everything About You' is perhaps the only weak track on the set, as the chorus is a little monotonous and too drenched in synthesisers to let the boys' vocals shine. However, 12 great songs and only one weak track on a 13 track album is a pretty good ratio. Without a doubt, 'Up All Night' surprised me as being one of the best albums of the past year, and worthy of a listen if you love pop-rock in the vein of Kelly Clarkson or McFly. Bring on album number two, I say.
HIGHLIGHTS: What Makes You Beautiful, One Thing, Tell Me a Lie, Save You Tonight, More Than This, Taken... practically the whole album!
Summary: A near-flawless debut album, that is one of the best in the pop-rock genre.