Top 20 Albums of 2014: 8-7
Overall, this is probably the slowest of the albums on my list. There's one uptempo, and most everything else is either ballad or midtempo. Because of this, the album as a whole took me a while to warm up to, but what it has in spades is longevity. The guys' excellent musicianship is on full display, and the entire album evokes a very specific mood that serves it better as a whole than in parts.
7. One Direction - Four
Their remarkably consistent run continues, as the guys have churned out another solid pop/rock album. Of all their releases, it may end up having the least staying power for me, but song for song, it's incredibly solid and surprisingly mature. The addition of more harmonies and gently production works wonders, even if I still prefer the big, loud, 80's power rock pastiches they pull off so well. As with most of their albums, it could do with a generous reshuffling when it comes to track order.