Worth Taking Home

3 1/2 stars

My 15-year-old little sister is a huge fan of One Direction. So naturally, whenever I’m home for any length of time, I end up playing chauffeur and getting an unhealthy dose of boy band exposure.

Don’t get me wrong, boy bands are a pretty awesome part of our culture: neatly groomed, nonthreatening young men who are essentially packaged to sell sex to a consumer with plenty of disposable income: teenaged girls.

That target product — innocence-flavored sex appeal — is delivered in a package of well-crafted pop songs and catchy riffs in One Direction’s sophomore album Take Me Home. The natural progression from their hyper-innocent Up All Night, the album takes strides to more “grown up” music, moving from “I want to hold your hand” to “I want to take you home.”

One Direction first emerged from the UK star factory reality show “X-Factor” as a ragtag pile of pubescent jailbait. After coming in third, the teenaged Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Liam Payne thought their days as an ensemble were over until they were offered a deal with Simon Cowell’s record label. Fast forward three years and they are one of the biggest pop culture phenomena right now with a rabid (and terrifying) fanbase.

Overall, it’s a strong album that demonstrates the direction the band hopes to move in. With well-known writers and artists Ed Sheeran, Mcfly and the One Direction boys themselves contributing their lyrics to the tracks, there’s a wealth of youthful voices, intimate moments and catchy choruses all over this album.

Sheeran’s tracks are easy to find as his style is impossible to miss. Lyrically, he has the sensibilities of a slam poet with fast-paced, detailed images that break out of the perfect rhyme box most pop songs fall into.

The second single “Little Things” is one such track, written by Sheeran in his younger days. It’s a sweet, stripped-down song about loving one’s partner despite physical imperfections and it’s really very lovely.

“Over Again,” another standout from Sheeran, gives the boy banders a chance to loosen up the pop vocals and deliver a more raw performance. The necessary heart behind these tracks lets the rest of the album breathe a bit and it’s much appreciated to avoid a bubblegum overdose.

Other tracks worth listening to include “Nobody Compares,” which has one of the catchiest pre-choruses ever, “Heart Attack” and  “Back For You” which are infuriatingly capable of staying in your head.