Very few pop groups aimed squarely at the teen/tween market last four albums, so it’s no surprise that One Direction have chosen to emphasise their relative longevity with the title of this just-in-time-for-Christmas long player.
It would be easy to criticise Harry, Louis, Zayn, Liam and Niall and their management for their undoubted cynicism and eagerness to strike while the 1D iron is still hot, but that would be to miss the point.
Four is no 21st century pop classic, but it continues the trend of improving on its predecessor – last year’s look-at-us-we’re-growing-up Midnight Memories – and contains a handful of unimprovable 45s (ask your parents).
Lead single Steal My Girl is the best thing they’ve ever done and soon-to-come follow-up Night Changes may be pop-by-numbers (there’s lots of oohs and you can picture them on stools a la Take That or Boyzone) but it’s a strong song nevertheless and will undoubtedly walk straight into the top 5, as will their fifth collaboration with Ed Sheeran, 18.
By the end of the deluxe edition’s 16 tracks it’s getting a bit much, and glammy closer Act My Age (think Bay City Rollers crossed with the Levellers) comes as a refreshing change after the aural Big Mac of much of what’s gone before.
Like this? Try these: Take That, The Circus; Ed Sheeran, X
By Andrew Greenhalgh