Album Review: Made in the A.M. – One Direction

On Nov. 13, One Direction released their fifth studio album Made in the A.M. (MITAM). Though it will be their last album for at least a year while the group is on hiatus, they have definitely left fans with some of their best work yet.

If you listened to the band’s entire discography, you would be quite impressed with how much their music has grown, along with them, since they first came onto the music scene in 2010 with their debut album Up All Night (UAN).

Not only have the boys switched from kiddy-pop tunes to more mature and indie inspired songs, they also have writing credits on 13 out of 17 songs on MITAM, compared to a total of zero on UAN.
One of the best things about the new album is that each song has a different vibe, and could essentially be filed under a different genre, a technique the band started using on their third studio album Midnight Memories.

The album starts off on a strong note with lead track “Hey Angel”, which sounds like it could easily be a U2 song, and has a similar feel to The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”; definitely not something you would expect to appear on a boy band’s album.

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The album switches gears for the next two songs, “Drag Me Down” and “Perfect”, for a more Top 40 feel. Easily two of the strongest tracks on the album. As the album’s first two singles, “Drag Me Down” has more of a pop rock feel while “Perfect” is Harry Style’s song, the last two minutes of the track featuring only his voice.

MITAM loses some traction with its fifth track “End of the Day”, which seems almost sloppy. The verses and chorus have completely different melodies and beats, leaving you disoriented, as the song seems to shift between two entirely different songs.

After a slight detour, the album gets back on track with a succession of impressive songs; “If I Could Fly”, co-written by Styles, showcases each of the band member’s individual vocal talents, with a beautiful piano melody as the only backing music. “Never Enough” moves back into pop rock territory, the most fun track on MITAM that might remind listeners of the Jonas Brothers. “Olivia” has the vibe of a Beatles song from their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, and “What a Feeling” sounds like it’s straight off an 80’s greatest hits album.

The album once again loses its momentum with the tracks “History” and “Temporary Fix”. Both are very fun and catchy, and definitely elicit plenty of dance moves, but they ultimately seemed like a rushed afterthought compared to the rest of the album.

MITAM closes out on a very strong note with its final three songs: “Walking in the Wind”, “Wolves”, and the title track “A.M.”. A heavy guitar song, “Walking in the Wind” emphasizes yet again just how vocally talented each of the band’s members are. “Wolves” is an all around fun song with a strong dance melody that has a slight folk sound to it, and provides plenty of impressive harmonies. “A.M.”, (one of my favourites) is very minimalistic when it comes to instruments, relying mainly on the acoustic guitar and the boy’s always strong vocals and harmonies.

All in all, One Direction’s fifth album Made in the A.M. truly showcases just why they have been breaking records since joining the music scene back in 2010. It’s a testament to why their fans are so loyal, and why the band has broken down many barriers and stereotypes associated with the term “boy band”. Considering they have pumped out a new album every November for the last half of the decade, Made in the A.M. illustrates how hard they work, and how much their musical talent and quality has grown and changed along with them.

-Laura Sebben

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