After placing third in the 2010 season of Britain's The X Factor, five-member boy band One Direction inked a record deal with mega-exec/TV personality Simon Cowell and released their debut album, 2011's Up All Night. A global sensation, the album garnered several hit singles and sold millions of copies worldwide. It also faired pretty well with critics, who appreciated the band's mix of melodic songcraft and catchy, dance-oriented material that, while slickly produced, avoided the commercial cynicism and adult contemporary posturing of some of their '80s and '90s forebears. Rather than mess with a good thing, One Direction stick with this formula on the band's sophomore effort, 2012's Take Me Home. Once again working largely with Sweden's Carl Falk, Rami Yacoub, and Savan Kotecha, who produced Up All Night, One Direction deliver another immediately catchy mix of dancey pop that maximizes the group's shared lead-vocal approach and peppy, upbeat image. This album highlights even more than their previous one how much One Direction's mix of punchy guitars over snappy beats, handclaps, and bright synthesizers has in common with the positive, fun-loving tone of '70s bubblegum pop, as well as more contemporary bands like the Jonas Brothers and perennial guilty pleasure Hanson. Also added to the mix this time around are two songs ("Little Things" and "Over Again") co-written by British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran, whose intimate folk-R&B aesthetic lends an air of maturity to One Direction's admittedly squeaky-fresh sound. The boys of One Direction also nab a few co-writing credits here, as does McFly's Tom Fletcher, whose contribution "I Would," a kind of in-spirit sequel to his Up All Night contribution "I Want," stands out as a considerably smart and infectious cut. Ultimately, tracks like the frenetically hyper "Kiss You" and the soundtrack-ready "Back for You" will, as with the rest of Take Me Home, certainly appeal to the group's rabid teen followers, and might even end up on their parents' playlist, too.
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