Album Review: 1D takes new direction with Made in the A.M.

One Direction released their highly anticipated fifth album Made in the A.M. on Friday Nov. 13, sparking a joyous response from fans around the world. This is the first album that band members Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson have made without former band mate Zayn Malik, which left many wondering if One Direction would continue to thrive without Malik’s strong belts and riffs.

Some people view Made in the A.M. as One Direction’s exit from the music scene since they just finished their world stadium tour and are taking the year off to live in homes rather than buses. The Rolling Stone claims, “Made in the A.M. is 1D’s Let It Be—the kind of record the world’s biggest pop group makes when it’s time to say thanks for the memories.” And this album surely has the cohesiveness to be a closing album for the boys.

Made in the A.M. opens with “Hey Angel,” a pop song with a folky touch. Though it’s undeniably catchy with its whistles, this is one of the more forgettable tracks from the album.

The album then moves on to “Drag Me Down,” the first single that the band secretly dropped back in July. This song felt like a more appropriate fit to open with, as it has powerful vocals and solid message that, “With your love, nobody can drag me down.”

Following “Drag Me Down” is “Perfect,” which is the band’s second single off the album. This song has a sensual but playful vibe. Styles’ vocals shine on this track, as he effortlessly carries the majority of the chorus. When I first heard the title, I expected it to be a cheesy love song, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was more about living in the moment and having fun.

“If I Could Fly” is a soft, emotional ballad unlike any other song that 1D has recorded. This track felt very private—juxtaposed with the fact that these band mates are perpetually in the spotlight. This song showed a more personal side of One Direction. It may not be the most memorable track, but with the lyrics, “I’m missing half of me when we’re apart/Now you know me, for your eyes only,” this song is definitely one of the most heartfelt on the album.

When I first heard “What a Feeling,” I felt like I was listening to a 1970s hit. This was very unexpected from the boy band—it shows they are much more comfortable in their style and have the confidence to explore their sound even deeper. Listeners of all ages are bound to enjoy this song and I think this is an excellent marker of their growth over the past five years.

The regular album ends with “History,” a song that Horan dedicated to the fans. He invited some lucky individuals to come to the studio with him to record the last chorus, making it sound like a crowd. Incorporating actual fans onto this album shows how much this band appreciates all of their support and how they want to share their success with the fans that have allowed them to continuously flourish over the past five years.

“Wolves” is by far my favorite on the album and is likely to become a hit. It’s very different from their typical pop tracks; instead, the guitar that begins the song has a clear folk-influence and the song is fun and catchy. This track is a great example of how One Direction’s bubbly songs have transformed from sounding like a typical pop boy band to a more indie-like sound.

“A.M.” ends the deluxe edition of Made in the A.M. and it’s a perfect ending. It’s another acoustic song, but it’s very liberating and sounds like a genuine depiction of what the boys do when they hang out on tour. It’s a very relatable track, talking about how late night conversations are always the best, “’Cause we don’t know what we’re saying/We’re just swimming round in our glasses/And talking out of our asses.”

Overall, Made in the A.M. feels even more experimental than FOUR and I think this is a testament to their sound progression. If there is a sixth album in the future, fans would have a lot to look forward to because the band appears more comfortable deviating toward a new, individual sound that could definitely be more explored.

Horan insists that this isn’t the end for One Direction, but if it is, this would be a fitting final album.