"Take Me Home," One Direction (Columbia)
Boy bands don't try to win over adults, let alone critics. They turn their laser focus on the only people who matter: tween and teen girls. One Direction is doing it right. The British quintet blew up this year with the No. 1 debut "Up All Night," and they're working in a quick followup before a tour that will bring them to Minneapolis July 18."Take Me Home" follows the formula with a healthy mix of studio polish and earnest vocals. Several tracks have across-the-board appeal, from the chunky-beat opening track "Live While We're Young" to the love-you-forever "Last First Kiss" and the bittersweet closer "Summer Love." Plus there's an amusing spin on a Queen riff on "Rock Me."
CHUCK CAMPBELL, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
The Coup, "Sorry to Bother You" (Anti-)
Oakland rapper Boots Riley doesn't have much competition when it comes to being the sharpest, wittiest, must musically expansive Marxist social critic on the block. But that doesn't mean he's easing up on his band's first album since 2006, which stretches further into Sly Stone-George Clinton psychedelic-funk territory. Riley raps over a lovely string arrangement in "Violet" and to the accompaniment of washboards and accordions on "We've Got a Lot to Teach You, Cassius Green." He sets his sights on trust-fund kids in "Your Parents' Cocaine" and art-world faux rebels in "You Are Not a Riot." Not the strongest of Coup albums -- 2001's "Party Music" gets my vote -- but a step forward for a major artist. The Coup performs Nov. 27 at the Cabooze.
DAN DELUCA, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Brian Eno, "Lux" (Warp)
This album finds Eno returning to the ambient genre that he created with 1975's "Discreet Music." This is music that melts into the background, deliberately and beautifully. "Lux" contains four parts, each just under 20 minutes, each built on slowly dissolving keyboard notes, pinging gently in spacious washes of atmospheric drones. The precisely articulated tones reward careful listening -- it's a headphone album -- but the music is also very soothing, and if it puts you to sleep, well, for an album like this, that's a valid measure of success.
STEVE KLINGE, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER