For those who detest boy bands on principle, there's little to persuade them that teen heartthrobs can make pop music worthy of attention. For maniacal worshippers more interested in members' favorite colors than musical influences, there's little to convince them that not all songs are created equal. On the follow-up to its chart-topping debut "Up All Night," the British quintet created out of the UK version of "The X Factor" proves it can perform enjoyably catchy, solidly crafted songs about puppy love. Like its forebears, One Direction gets a lot of help from savvy writers and producers. Those include newly touted Brit folkie Ed Sheeran, who co-wrote the set's two best songs in the tender "Little Things" and "Over Again." There is also a complement of Swedish hitmakers including "Up All Night" contributors Carl Falk, Savan Kotecha, and Rami Yacoub who conjure up several earworms including the falsetto grabber "Change My Mind." While the album is uniformly sleek and upbeat, a few tunes hew too closely to the generic template; but as boy bands go, fans — and their wary parents — could do much worse. (Out now)
ESSENTIAL "Little Things"