One Direction may have finally discovered their biggest problem: they established their fan base way too early on in their career.
Now, this is to no fault of their own, but as their sound evolved from where it was at during the Up All Night era to where it is now with Friday’s release of Made In the A.M., it sounds like two totally different groups. Up All Night took the world by storm as the U.K.-based five-piece became the biggest boy band in recent memory.
With that, they established a largely female fan base.
But fast forward to present day, where their songwriting is laced with innuendos left and right, whilst mixed with a broader spectrum of a sound then before. However due to preconceived notions, it became a daunting task for the group to tap into different demographics.
But for those who are willing to check their ego at the door, the “final” One Direction album is truly something else.
Certainly with reason, there was much speculation as to how this album would go following the departure of Zayn Malik to explore his solo career. However, with the release of their first single of the album and since Malik’s departure, “Drag Me Down”, One Direction proved they were as good as ever.
Made in the A.M. did nothing but perpetuate this idea. It showed the groups versatility – not just in style of music, but sheer talent as well.
With nothing to lose as this is their final album for the foreseeable future, One Direction truly threw in the kitchen sink and pulled out all the stops for their fifth album.
Arguably the best way to describe the different tracks is to compare them to other tracks. Not only to conjure ideas of the sound of each track, but to also exhibit the diversity that their music brings to the table.
The opening track “Hey Angel” is eerily reminiscent of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”, and at the same time starts their album similarly to some albums in the past, with incessant cymbal blasts, a well-balanced chorus with an upbeat and fast pace throughout.
What the group experiments with this time around, and near flawlessly as well, is the use of strings and horns.
“Never Enough” is made simply by the addition of horns to the chorus. It adds a certain uniqueness to the sounds that would still exist if it were electric guitar in lieu of horns, but it made all the better by the power and differentiation of sound courtesy of shrieking trumpets and edgy trombones.
“Long Way Down” features relaxed, sultry guitar and a vibe reminiscent of Popium’s “Sooner or Later”. What’s more, the writing in this track is unreal. Metaphors constantly depict squandered opportunities at love, with lines such as “Built a cathedral, but we never prayed”, and “We had a spaceship, but we couldn’t land it.”
“If I Could Fly” is a borderline tearjerker, which sounds like it was a stripped down version of a previously upbeat song. It is simply voice and piano, and it is outstanding. It showcases each member’s musical talent and proves that they may not necessarily flop if they test the waters of solo careers.
Much like with previous album Four, there is no shortage of sexual innuendo laced throughout the album. “Love You Goodbye” is about breakup sex, as confirmed by Louis Tomlinson, who wrote the song. On the other hand “Temporary Fix” which possesses a sound similar to early Bombay Bicycle Club, is about being readily available for a one-night stand.
“Perfect” is about Harry Styles’ relationship with singer Taylor Swift, and makes Swift’s “Style” (a track about Styles) sound like a demo for “Perfect.”
Arguably the most underrated track on the album is “What a Feeling.” It sounds more like a Top-40 indie track, but features sensational harmonizing alongside a dance-oriented indie vibe.
And then there’s “I Want to Write You a Song,” which features the sound of a pencil scribbling on a notepad. Much like “Long Way Down,” this track drizzles metaphors and similes all over, and with some of that enhancing string as well as acoustic guitar, it is yet another showcase of all the talent the four possess.
Could this be it for One Direction? Possibly. The future is unknown, and the mates could one day find their way back together, but one thing is certain: if this is it, they went out on one hell of a note.