Of course, we all know that you can’t “steal” someone from another person, just as people don’t “belong” to other people. But dammit if this isn’t the most rousing, show-stopping track the band have ever produced.
Is that a 1975 influence I hear? This song from Four arrived a year after the release of the Mancunian band’s debut album, and appears heavily inspired by frontman Matty Healy’s penchant for an Eighties pop guitar twang.
It’s a shock to be reminded that Tomlinson and Payne were behind this song (plus co-writers), not Fleetwood Mac megafans Styles and Horan. But maybe they had more to do with that “Dreams” bassline that makes the song what it is. Horan couldn’t help using it for “On the Loose”, the opening track on his debut solo album, Flicker.
Ignoring the awkwardness of Styles trying desperately to rhyme “soul” with “boat” in the first verse, this is a straight-up banger that references The Police with its electric twang and reggae elements.
There’s that Fleetwood Mac bassline again! Another Payne/Tomlinson co-write, this song captures the heady rush of young love and shows the band still had plenty to offer, even in the absence of Malik.
Harry Styles gets top marks for sheer audacity with this blatant riff on a classic song by his ex-girlfriend, Taylor Swift. He references knights in shining armour and a person “looking for someone to write your breakup songs about”. Meanwhile that driving, synth-pop backing track is a dead ringer for “Style” – Swift’s song widely believed to have been written about Styles himself (if the title wasn’t enough of a clue).
Perhaps not the most obvious choice for number one, this enormously underrated track from Take Me Home has a title that belies its disarmingly mature approach, from the lyrics to the romantic production filled with sweeping violins and tender guitars. It doesn’t really fit at the end of the album; on its own, it’s an impressive and rather moving pop ballad with some of the band’s best vocal work, including those superb harmonies on the chorus. The band’s most favoured themes – nostalgia, bittersweet memories, young love, friendship – are all present and correct. All five members are credited with writing “Summer Love” – a surprisingly rare instance across their discography – and it feels fitting that one of their most truly collaborative efforts should turn out to be their best.
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