Pop megastars show their age on what could be their last ever album
Between June 2014 and June 2015, One Direction earned a ridiculous $130 million. That’s more than Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris. The pop combo’s merchandising team has clearly been firing on all cylinders – if you’d like your home to smell like One Direction, you can buy an official candle from the band’s website for £15. But the group’s large cast of songwriters and producers also deserve credit for extending One Direction’s shelf life by gently steering their sound from fizzy teen-pop to something more mature. Their 2013 hit ‘Steal My Girl’ owed an obvious debt to Bruce Springsteen, while this album’s lead single ‘Drag Me Down’, the first they released without Zayn Malik who quit unexpectedly in March, has jerky guitar hooks that recall The Police. Yes, The Police.
‘Made In The AM’ is One Direction’s final word before they embark on a 12-month “hiatus” that sounds suspiciously like it’s the beginning of the end, so it makes sense that it’s more grown-up and contemplative than we’re used to from them. ‘Hey Angel’ and ‘Infinity’ are wistful arena anthems, the slinky ’80s glide of ‘What A Feeling’ compares favourably to Haim and a stately guitar ballad called ‘Long Way Down’ suggests Louis Tomlinson wasn’t simply trolling the Gallaghers when he suggested this album could sound “a bit Oasis-y, almost”. But perhaps most surprising is the folky ‘I Want To Write You A Song’, on which they harmonise sweetly over softly plucked acoustic.
‘Made In The AM’ is still pretty silly though. The slightly ridiculous ‘Never Enough’ sounds a bit like ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ crossed with Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’, while ‘End Of The Day’ offers a truly idiotic description of feeling lovesick (“The priest thinks it’s the devil/My mum thinks it’s the flu/But girl it’s only you”. ‘Made In The AM’ doesn’t really change anything for One Direction; it’s simply another slick set of pop songs designed to strike a chord with their teenage fanbase and win over a few older fans along the way. If this is the last we hear from them, it’s probably a fitting swansong. Now they can get on with the fallouts, drug binges, bankruptcy and podginess…
Director: Jesse Shatkin, John Ryan, Julian Bunetta
Record label: Columbia/ Syco
Release date: 13 Nov, 2015