The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night (1964), 4/10

The third album from the Beatles features songs mostly written by Lennon and a few by McCartney, finally deviating from the formulaic cover approach to recording. Still, the partnership was in its infancy considering where they would progress to, and while some tracks are decent or good, some of these songs are nothing short of abysmal. The first half of the album makes up the film soundtrack, a film certainly worth watching, and the second half consists of songs recorded for the film, but these were not included in the final product. Harrison’s guitar work influences contemporaries yet it was quickly drowned out by better examples of his own style. Yet the real inhibitor of this album is its songwriting, not in its sound. Not much can be expected from a partnership and a band still beholden to a pop-centric writing style without much inspiration and an audience reflecting this juvenile approach to musicality. The opening title track and “Can’t Buy Me Love” that closes out the first half of the record carry much of the weight, while songs such as “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” and “Any Time at All” illustrate some of the lowest points of the Beatles’ collective songwriting career. Lennon’s delivery is soulful but cannot breathe life into such a lackluster set of songs. Almost two years later, the Beatles’ debut was still their most interesting and effective recording despite its immaturity. Here the band is still focused on the wrong things, show very little in the way of individuality, and are shackled by a misguided approach to music in general, showing just how far they still needed to climb to make any lasting impact on the industry.