Album Review: One Direction’s ‘Made In The A.M.’

It was a tempestuous year for One Direction fans worldwide in 2015. With a hiatus looming on the horizon, Made In The A.M. arrived Friday (November 13) to the awaiting hands of the millions of fans eagerly ready to snatch up a copy.

Made In The A.M marks the first 1D album since Zayn Malik made his inevitable departure back in March. A few short months later the now foursome dropped the first single out of thin air and onto the unsuspecting internet.

The track, “Drag Me Down,” became the band’s bestselling single in its first week. With a heavy emphasis on the pop-rock genre, it quickly gained a spot on the Billboard 100. The follow up single (“Perfect”), co-written by Tomlinson and Styles, brought back the peppier side of the 1D era without receding the momentum of the new sound the band had worked their way up to. “Perfect” also made a spot for itself on the Billboard 100, breaking a previous record made by The Beatles. It became the fifth number one hit for the history-breaking boy band.

Many fans will note the absence of Malik’s soulful voice on the new album, but amidst the indie pop crooning, rock influenced choruses, and pop perfection vocals, it’s hard to find a place where that voice would fit. 

The empty space Malik left when he hopped off the band wagon was quickly filled with tight harmonies, dramatic runs, and the rocky edge each member pulls off superbly well. “Hey Angel” introduces the rock influences the album delves into heavily, with the overly romantic lyrics: “I come alive when I hear your voice / It’s a beautiful sound / It’s a beautiful noise.” The lyrics hit a growl as Liam Payne gets chest deep into the track. It’s not the strongest off the album, but it opens up the pathway into the most sincere album the band has ever released.

The sincerity drives home with the tracks “Long Way Down,” and “History.”

“Long Way Down” includes the stand out lyrics: “I try to forgive you / But I’m struggling / ‘Cause I don’t know how.” It marks the most candid the foursome have ever been regarding the split with Malik. After a public blow up between Tomlinson and Malik on Twitter, it’s clear that the remaining four had more to say than what was printed.

“History” begins with heavy claps, an acoustic guitar, and the rough edge of Styles’ vocals. The chorus opens up with the lyrics: “You and me / Got a whole lot of history / We could be the greatest thing / that the world has ever seen.” Before transcending into even more detail regarding the ever moving rumor mill: “All of the rumors / All of the fights / But we always find a way to make it out alive / Thought we were going strong / Thought we were holding on / Aren’t we? /” It’s the type of sing along song that has since created a chant between the band and their fans that will go on for years to come.

The album continues on the rock genre trail and delivers the catchiest album on the deluxe version: “Temporary Fix.” The song, co-written by Irish member Niall Horan, is an ode to a friends-with-benefits relationship with the lyrics: “You can call me / When you’re lonely / I’ll be your temporary fix / You control me / Even if it’s just tonight.” The chorus is the kind of harmonious that makes it hard to tell who’s really singing lead on it. It’s got the rocky edge to it that balances out the mellow tracks that dominate the album.

 

A highlight of the album rests within the ‘80’s influenced track “What a Feeling.” It’s heavy on the whimsical feel and cranks up the Fleetwood Mac vibe that compliments Styles’ voice on the chorus. Even Payne’s pop infused voice fits the track like a glove. It’s the most iconic song on the album, with the floaty lyrics: “What a feeling to be a king beside you somehow / I wish I could be there now.” Co-written by Tomlinson and Payne, the track stands out amongst any other track the band has released.

“Oliva” is an ode to The Beatles, with an acoustic guitar before transcending into a heavy drum beat in the chorus. The track was written by Styles, Julian Bunetta, and John Ryan. The track is a feel good, sunny ode to the fab four that came before them. Styles croons the lyrics wistfully, “Summer time / Butterflies / All belong to your creation / I love you / It’s all I do,” while Tomlinson comes in at counterpoint with a strong vocal performance.

“I Want To Write You A Song,” is a sweet love song that hides shyly between the tracks. It’s the least memorable, but the most sincere.

“If I Could Fly,” “Walking in The Wind,” both co-written by Styles, marks a milestone for ballads. At opposite ends of the genre spectrum, “If I Could Fly” sits as a piano ballad, while “Walking in The Wind,” is a Paul Simon infused track, with the lyrics: “We had some good times, didn’t we? / We had some good tricks up our sleeves / Goodbyes are bittersweet / But it’s not the end / I’ll see your face again.” The crooning done by Horan himself drives the tone of the song into a bittersweet nostalgia.

“Never Enough,” “Wolves,” and “Infinity,” sit at the best production wise. “Infinity” blends Coldplay with the pop influence of a 1D song, and creates a cinematic feeling.  “Never Enough,” and “Wolves” offer up two of the catchiest songs on the album. The two tracks are refreshing against the onslaught of constant auto tuned and overly remixed pop songs that hit the radio waves.

“Love You Goodbye” showcases Tomlinson’s new found confidence in his vocals, and it’s a pity it’s taken this long for it to shine past his bandmates.

Overall, Made In The A.M. has created the best direction for the band if they decide to come back for a sixth one. If not, it’s a solid last album to walk away to. It’s not the album that audiences will remember in ten years by the famous foursome. It probably won’t even be the fan’s favorites. But it will be the album that sincerely captures the historically iconic mania that is One Direction.

You can pick up a copy of the album worldwide today.

9.5/10

Brooke Pawling Stennett is a college student pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism and Creative Non-Fiction in the old Windy City. She tends to lean toward the obsessive side of the tracks when it comes to books and music. She's an avid concert attendee (or at least she tries to!) and rambler. She'd like to travel the world and write about it, but in the only ways she knows how: sarcastically and full of internet jargon. Her opinions are her best ones, especially if they involve boy-bands and Netflix. . .even though she doesn't even have her own account. You can tweet her at @br_stennett and tell her how ridiculous (and totally great!) her opinions are.