A lot has been said about One Direction over the years. But whether you buy tickets to every date of their tour, insult them at every mention of their name, or genuinely couldn’t name a single member, one thing remains: there’s something special about One Direction. I think it’s high time everyone got over “They’re just doing it for the money!” “They actually hate each other!” and my personal favourite, “They can’t even sing!” because, it’s just not true. It never has been. And what’s more, I promise you, One Direction don’t care. One thing rings out from their fifth studio album, Made In The A.M. One Direction know who they are, they know what music they want to do, and they don’t care if you don’t like it. Well boys, I don’t like it, I love it.
The album starts with the Hey Angel, a song that feels like waking up in a city on a sunny morning and stepping outside knowing it’s going to be a good day. With echoes of Coldplay and U2, this song is the most pleasant of surprises, and a perfect opening track. If you’re not at least a little bit excited about the rest of the album after this, there’s something wrong with you.
Drag Me Down and Perfect, the first singles off the album, are the obvious radio hits. Reminiscent of their Up All Night days, Perfect has that lifting dance-pop production that makes you want to dance around in a dark room and belt out the lyrics. My favourite moment comes after the middle eight where the drop kicks in with stripped production on the chorus, letting the drums (and Harry) do the talking. Drag Me Down is rich with guitars, an infectious beat and arguably Styles’ best vocal performance to date. “No body can drag me down”. It’s one massive “fuck you” to anyone who has tried to put them down. Like I said, just give up already.
There are, of course, the famous 1D ballads to pull on your heartstrings and leave you in a sobbing mess all over the floor. Infinity does this over ultra-pop tones, where If I Could Fly and Love You Goodbye weld pianos and acoustic guitars. And if you thought it was only the smooth tones of Zayn Malik that could put a lump in your throat, you were bitterly mistaken. Niall Horan singing, “Right now I’m completely defenseless” will leave you completely defenseless.
My favourite thing about this album though, is what has always been my favourite thing about One Direction. It makes me feel so good. Never Enough had me on my feet pulling every shape that’s ever been pulled. The clever phrasing “I don’t need my love you can take it, you can take ‘n’ take it / I don’t need my heart you can break it, you can break it ‘n’ break it”, and strong clicking rhythm make it the most fun song on the album, and my favourite. What A Feeling and Wolves are even more 80s than Stockholm Syndrome was. History, Walking In The Wind and A.M. make me want to be in the crowd at a 1D concert holding hands and swaying… in a non-cheesy way, obviously.
The only low point on this album, if I could possibly be forced to squeeze one out, is Olivia, a song that just seems to rhyme lots of words with “Olivia”. But then again, now I wish I was called Olivia.
I say this pretty much every time 1D bring out a new album, but I think Made In The A.M. is their best yet. It really is. Are they still good without Zayn? Yes. Do they sound like every other boy-band? Absolutely not. Should you think about giving One Direction another chance? Yes. Sure, they don’t write every single song, neither does Beyoncé. There is a reason One Direction win Best British Group year after year. Made In The A.M. is a testament to this. They’re kooky, fun and unique. They’ve had five amazing years and now they’re finally taking a break. I couldn’t think of a better way to send them off than with a Number 1, which I sincerely hope this album gets. It deserves it.