The New Classic
One Direction go rock! Is this what the kids want? Yeah, probably.
And so they should. For their not so much difficult as unlikely third album, X Factor's most dizzyingly successful product have found a way to mature gracefully without sacrificing their pure pop appeal. Well, sort of "gracefully" – that's a tricky one to pull off when you sound like Kiss.
But don't run away just yet. It's only Little Black Dress that raises the spectre of Gene Simmons' gonzo rockers. On the title track they exhume Def Leppard's lumbering Pour Some Sugar On Me, while Best Song Ever builds itself around The Who's Baba O'Riley riff and You & I follows the chord progression of Bryan Adams' Heaven. You can tell this lot have broken the States, and they have no plans to fix it again.
Midnight Memories' other great touchstone is closer to home, with Mumford & Sons' rousing folk-rock running through Happily, Through The Dark and – best of all – Story Of My Life, which hits a sweet spot the Mumfords have rarely got near (and Gary Barlow's facsimiles barely attempt).
It's not just a game of spot the influence, but you know what you're getting with the rest: big choruses, pinsharp harmonies, lost love, found love, perils of life on the road and youthful willy-waving. It's simply a better package all round.