The weirdest thing about the new One Direction single is how sincerely great it is. “Story Of My Life,” the first single taken from their upcoming third studio album Midnight Memories, sounds like the lovechild of Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran for the first minute, until it transforms into a gorgeously uplifting Coldplay or Phillip Phillips-style lighters-up arena ballad with an urgent backbeat. It’s more hot AC than Radio Disney, and notably, it’s their first single that hasn’t either been a kicking, rollicking pop-rock confection (like “Live While We’re Young”) or a dreary ballad (like “Little Things”); it’s a more mature midpoint between the two.
“Story Of My Life” probably feels particularly merciful because for those of us who find that rootsy alt-rock sound intolerable, this takes the most palatable elements of it and covers it with a sugary radio-pop sheen; it’s a Mumford single that doesn’t smell like spilled beer.
The fanaticism of the hype surrounding 1D still may be for the wrong reasons, but if the lead single sounds this good, there isn’t much to complain about. Listen below.