1. Steal My Girl
Alright, here we go. "Steal My Girl" is the first single off of Four and it's incredibly strong as such. I do admit to being pretty smiley when I heard it for the first time. I also admit to some confusion simply because I knew that opening riff and I couldn't place it. Turns out it's essentially a rip-off of "Faithfully" by Journey. One Direction ins't really new to this, having quite a few songs that are "inspired" by huge hits ("What Makes You Beautiful" is "Summer Loving" from Grease, "Best Song Ever" is "Baba O'Reilley" by The Who). Honestly, I don't mind too much, it makes the song feel familiar and it is a strong intro. The song is incredibly catchy and I really enjoy it, despite Zayn getting a bit indulgent near the end (I can only take so much warbling). Very strong start to the album. My one issue is the line "she belongs to me." Come on, guys. It's 2014. Can we not be so possessional? I feel like this could have been remedied easily and it was a lazy choice in words.
2. Ready to Run
I think this is my favourite song off of the record. It starts off a bit like "Story of My Life" from Midnight Memories and also a bit like Green Day's "Time Of Your Life" with the ongoing guitar riff. I think the lyrics are quite lovely and it's altogether a beautiful song. The chorus comes at you with strength and power, especially with the Mumford & Sons strumming in there that gives it a nice punch. I could see my having this song on repeat. It's the "Happily" of Four for me.
3. Where do broken hearts go
This song has an intro that sounds exactly like "Mamma Mia" by ABBA, which is a little bit hilarious, but this is the first song that feels like old-school 1D. It's truly anthemic. You can already seem them singing this in an amphitheater with everybody screaming along to it. It's a pretty good song, but I don't love it like "Ready to Run." However, it's solid in its basicness. My big issue is the line "are you giving it to someone else?" Giving what? Love? Her body? And so what if she is? I don't know, but that line just really rubs me the wrong way.
Super ballady, croony song that I kind of love after the first verse. The first verse is just not as strong as the rest of the song but once you get past it, the song builds incredibly well to its moving chorus and more powerful verses. It's nice in structure and works as a love song even though I'm a bitter 24 year-old who has no such love to reminisce about. Sigh. Not a song I'm going to be playing too many times but I won't skip over it.
5. Girl almighty
I absolutely adore the intro to this. After "18," we are back into pop-fun with this track. It's catchy and super danceable (check out all the Vines for the line "let's have another toast to the girl almighty"). There's not much to say about this song other than that it's fun and that's pretty much it. But that's all it needs to be. I mean, it doesn't even have a second verse, it's just a repeat of the first one. I don't even care, it all works.
6. Fool's gold
I'm pretty meh about this song. It's alright but I always forget about it when I think about the album. When I listen to it, I like it, but it never really sticks out as anything sensational to me. The chorus is decently strong but other than that, I'm pretty ambivalent towards it.
7. Night changes
I know everyone is flipping out over this track (and the music video for this track), but again, it's one that I find pretty forgettable. Much like Taylor Swift, I really prefer when One Direction is more care-free and light-hearted. I can't expect this of all of their songs, of course, and obviously their albums are going to be rife with love songs but I'd prefer a more danceable album. Two tracks in a row that I would probably skip.
8. No control
Another anthemic track, very danceable and screamable at a concert. This song is a lot of fun, but when you actually listen to the lyrics, it is crazy sexual. I'm now feeling what my parents must have felt when I was singing along to The Spice Girls and Britney Spears at the top of my lungs, words whose meanings I never put together until much later. This will be fun for the young'ins at their shows and the poor parents who get dragged along.
I love the mix of low and high tones in this song, it's super sexy. This song is really lovely and I'm reminded of Bo Burnham's song "Repeat Stuff" because One Direction sings this song as if they are singing only to the person listening. Pretty dangerous stuff for any moderately impressionable person. Luckily, I am a self-possessed woman who won't jump on a plane to England because I belooooong with Harry. I promise, I won't. Right? Yikes.
This song is unintentionally hilarious because 1D sings about spaces getting "deeper" between them and their women, or whomever, but really, a deep space isn't that big of a deal. What you should be worried about is a wide space. A wide space creates actual distance. Unless you are at the bottom of said "space," then depth is not your issue. It's an alright song, but the best part is by far the guitar riff at the end of the chorus. It's gorgeous and is the main thing I take away from the song.
11. stockholm syndrome
I really want to like this song, especially since it's so different than 1D's usual fodder (and it's written by Harry). I really like the verses but I just can't stand the chorus (smite me now). I just really can't get into this song at all, and it is by far my least favourite track on the record. I don't know, I've really tried to get into it, and maybe in a few months time I will, but at this point, I am just not.
A super Phoenix-inspired verse intros this song and I guess it works but I'm such a huge Phoenix fan, and unfortunately I just don't think the boys of One Direction can pull it off. Phoenix should do Phoenix and 1D should do 1D. The song itself is alright but not mind blowing. Incredibly weak as a closer to the album.
Bonus Track 1. change your ticket
I highly suspect this song was co-written with Matt Healey from The 1975 because holy shit this song is a fucking 1975 song (this is very similar to when Ed Sheeran penned "Over Again" and "Little Things" for Take Me Home: both sounded like Sheeran tracks, not 1D ones). Editor's note: Alright, I looked it up and it's not Matt Healey. How is that possible? Jeez. I really love this song, actually, because of how 1975-y it is, and 1D can pull off this style way more than they can the Phoenix-style for "Clouds." Still shocked The 1975 had nothing to do with it, though.
Bonus Track 2. Illusion
Oh good lord, that intro is so 90s, it's ridiculous. I don't love this song. I have nothing really to say about this song other than I don't love it. They say "illusion" way too much. I don't know. I've lost passion at this point.
Bonus track 3. once in a lifetime
Oooooh the harmonies in this song are gorgeous. This song is actually pretty damn solid. It's got good verses and an amazing chorus. Then they go into some "ahhhhs" à la "A Day in the Life" which normally I wouldn't love, but it definitely works in this track.
bonus track 4. act my age
I fucking love this song. It's silly, totally ridiculous and very Irish. It's an extremely strong end to the deluxe edition.
All in all, this is a really enjoyable album but in the battle of 1989 vs. Four, 1989 does come out on top. I give this album ★★★ 1/2 stars.