Made in the A.M is the fifth studio album by the UK/Irish group One Direction, released before their one-year hiatus. While it was speculated that the band would suffer after having to deal with Zayn Malik’s abrupt departure, it has indeed proven to be the opposite. Whether or not this change has fueled the remaining four members as they claim, it is by far the best album they have released and the maturity from bubble gum pop to an older school influenced sound is transition enough to leave on. They set out to make this album their best and they’ve achieved it. While it is disappointing that they will not be touring for this album, it is nice to hear this quality music from them. The album overall is a mix of different influences, some more obvious than others and overall, for this group, the overall sound is definitely a road that had never been taken.
Here’s my track by track review mixed with inconsequential personal opinion:
With Harry having tweeted quite a few lyrics from this particular song, my first impression was that it was going to be a slow ballad but it turned out to be a refreshing upbeat start to the new album, picking up on the euphoric note that Clouds left off in Four. The difference, however, is that this tune has a more mellow sound than the in-your-face ecstatic tone of Clouds. I’m pleased that the song isn’t too direct in terms of romantic references as I had expected.
Hey angel, do you look at us and laugh, when we hold on to the past?
Hey angel, tell me, do you ever cry, when we waste away our lives?
Drag Me Down
This is the first single off the album as well as the first song that had been released after Zayn left the band and it certainly makes a point.The experimentation is evident and might take some getting used to, as it did in my case where it actually grew on me over time. The message is clear though, a ‘you can’t hold me back’ anthem of sorts. The group had a lot to prove and this song encapsulated it with the edge in its tone. Niall and Liam’s solos were what hooked me most in Drag Me Down but I must say I was disappointed that Louis didn’t sing much in it.
Notable lyrics: I’ve got a river for a soul and baby you’re a boat
It’s safe to say that Perfect has been the media’s favourite to hype what with the suspected Taylor Swift references, acting as One Direction’s retaliation to her track Style off 1989. Apart from that little bit of entertainment, I don’t find this song fitting in too well with the album overall, maybe better fit for Midnight Memories. It’s not the best lyrics wise.
But if you like causing trouble up in hotel rooms
And if you like having secret little rendezvous
I feel as if One Direction’s team promote the wrong tracks. When I heard Infinity for the first time, I did enjoy it and thought the rest of the album would follow in this line but how wrong I was. Now that I have heard the entire album, it seems misplaced. Just like Perfect it belongs on one of their previous albums with its dramatic proclamations. Nonetheless, it was excellent in terms of vocals.
How many nights have you wished someone would stay?
Lie awake only hoping they’re okay
End of the Day
Another upbeat tune with clapping hands and a quick beat, yet I’m in a bit of love/hate relationship with this track. This hasn’t been the first time I’ve found that the verses and chorus of one of their songs don’t match, sounding a little like a mashup of two different songs. While I love the verses, the chorus throws me a little with the overpowering tone of it in comparison. That being,said, I can’t deny that it’s a feel good tune about no apologies. Not to mention, Louis kills the high note.
Just me, her and the moon
I set you on fire, babe and down came the lightning on me
If there’s something I’ve learnt from a million mistakes
You’re the one that I want at the end of the day
If I Could Fly
Following End of the Day, the momentum slows down significantly. If I Could Fly could be aptly summed up as the most heart-wrenching song by these lads, in my opinion. Despite having recycled the lyric ‘I’m missing half of me’ from Half a Heart, it’s definitely an upgrade. It sounds genuine which is definitely not One Direction’s trademark what with their previous overwrought ballads that ooze romantic cliches (no hate). The song revolves around the apprehension and insecurity following showing someone your true colours, the mask ripped off summed up when Harry sings ‘And I hope that you don’t run from me’. It’s achingly beautiful.
If I could fly
I’d be coming right back home to you
I think I might give up everything
Just ask me to
Long Way Down
This is the type of track you can imagine yourself rolling over in bed, just lying there reminiscing about how you build something only for it be broken. Or it’s the type of song you’d play on a long car ride, staring out the window thinking about someone you wish you never lost. This track, for me, has some of the best lyrics, meaningful and beautiful, coupled with soothing backtracks. Hats off to Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Julian Bunetta, John Ryan and Jamie Scott for writing this one. I really enjoyed it.
Built a cathedral
But we never prayed
We had it all, yeah and we walked away
We had a mountain, but took it for granted
We had a spaceship, but we couldn’t land it
We found an island, but we got stranded
This is one of my favourites. I can’t help but laugh at the grunting in the background but it’s catchy and runs like a Vine loop in your head (if you let it). The fast singing is a nice change from the previous emotional tracks and I like the come on’s and other background vocals. It’d be a challenge not to dance around while listening to it because of the slightly residual pop sound. This track has got Niall written all over it and I was happy to hear one penned by him since his writing style isn’t sappy. He did not disappoint. While Never Enough has been hyped up as No Control 2.0 I’d like to disagree. But yes, it has some of it’s undertones.
Lips so good I forget my name
I swear I could give you everything
Think Willy Wonka leading the Beatles through Candyland eating rainbow fluff along the way and you’ve got Olivia. Yes, it sounds absurd but what else can you expect from Harry?When he spoke about the song, he said it personified an emotion and I understand that actually. While I did chuckle a bit when I initially heard the song it truly is pure joy, giving you the feeling of just being in love but yet not with anything specific. Olivia could be so many things and I like that. For me it’s sprawled across a picnic blanket sketching something or going skating and grabbing a hot cocoa. Whatever Olivia means to you, it’s certain to put you in a terribly good mood, the type that annoys people, in fact.
This isn’t the stain of a red wine
I’m bleeding love
When you go and I’m alone
You live in my imagination
Summertime and butterflies
All belong to your creation
What a Feeling
The sensual, sexy groove of What a Feeling is reminiscent of of the 70’s disco with a chill vibe. I think the vocals are extremely on point in this track, with smooth transition between the verses and chorus, the antithesis of End of the Day. The chorus and guitar make this song memorable.
Notable lyrics: What a feeling to be a king beside you
Love You Goodbye
First thought when I heard the beginning was that it sounded like Apologise by One Republic. It’s about breaking up with someone but spending one more night together but honestly, this track didn’t stand out much to me.
Why you wearing that to walk out of my life?
Even though it’s over you should stay the night.
I Want to Write You A Song
Cute is what comes to mind. It is literally lyrical fluff that could have easily stemmed from Tumblr posts which is welcome with the fans of course. I like the stripped down simplicity of I Want to Write You a Song with no instrumentation but a guitar. The chorus is the highlight what with the soft ooh’s that could just as well fit in a lullaby coaxing you to sleep and Louis taking charge of the chorus was a well made decision. I think this song makes the most out of the softness of his voice. I could fall asleep listening to this, it’s just that soothing.
So when the world is cold
You’ll have a hiding place you can go
I want to lend you my coat
I was walking around campus while listening to this and it makes for good company if you’re strolling around aimlessly with time to think. And it will make you think because it is dedicated to the fans and the crew. Nostalgic and personal, History will revive memories of the past five years or so, all the ups and downs the band and the fans have had. Liam mentioned how it’s Toy Story-esque, providing closure and I agree. My favourite part is Louis’ solo because of all the direct references. Though it’s repetitive, History is the literal perfect swan song to this chapter of One Direction’s career, ending on a positive note in the standard edition of the album.
Mini bars, expensive cars, hotel rooms, and new tattoos, the good champagne, and private planes
But they don’t mean anything.
Cause’ the truth is out,
I realize that without you here life is just a lie
This is not the end, this is not the end
We can make it you know it, you know
This is is real No Control 2.0 with a pop-rock feel. Written by Niall, you can see that the songs about sex have been written by the member marketed as the innocent one, which is telling in itself. Keeping in mind who wrote it, it’s easy to see the bar scenario playing out and the dirt in this track is more than welcome.
You look like the kind of girl who’s tired of speaking
You can hold me I’m always what you like
Let me be your good night
Walking in the Wind
Clearly influenced by Paul Simon as Harry said, Walking in the Wind is another one of my favorites off this album. Though it has romantic tones, I don’t necessarily equate it to a romantically inclined relationship but rather loss of a loved one, with their soul free to walk in the wind. The ‘You will find me’ lyric resonated with me personally and it feels like an inexplicable of sadness, upliftment and freedom.
Goodbyes are bittersweet, but it’s not the end
I’ll see your face again
You will find me and you will find me
I liked the name of the song and based on it, expected it to sound somewhat fierce but then again when has One Direction ever done that (just kidding)? It’s a nice surprise with the analogy of guys approaching a girl as wolves closing in. For a song about taking down guys and not going down without a fight, it’s quite cheery.The chorus is the best part. Another track written by Niall, this is one of my favourites as well. I catch myself unintentionally singing the chorus when I least expect it, the mark of a true ohrwurm (earworm in German).
In the middle of the night when the wolves come out
They head straight for your heart like a bullet in the dark
One by one, I take them down
We can run and hide, ain’t goin’ down without a fight
A.M is the most relatable, revolving around a group of friends who are talking shit in the early morning only for it to course into the bigger scheme of things. It’s the ramblings of a daydreaming mind drunk on youth and possibility with a nostalgic tone. I think anyone in their 20’s would enjoy this one. Personally, I really connect with this song because some of the best conversations I’ve ever had were in the wee hours of the morning, completely unfiltered.
We’re just swimmin’ ’round in our glasses
And talking out of our asses like we’re all gonna make it
Won’t you stay ’til the A.M.?
All my favourite conversations
Always made in the A.M
You can tell over the years that One Direction have tried out so many different styles and it somehow seemed like a glove that didn’t fit right but I think with Made in the A.M it’s the perfect size.Overall, I love the older influences. Since they knew they would not be touring this album, it allowed room for less stadium hits which improved the quality of it all. Made in the A.M is more meaningful and shows how far the band has come since Up All Night. Although fans who preferred their pop tunes more might not be enthusiastic over Made in the A.M, I think it shows possible directions that the band could go in, whether they choose to reconvene or pursue solo ventures. Good on them and good luck.
Order Made in the AM on through any major music retailer.
Favourite Songs: Walking in the Wind, Wolves, Never Enough, If I Could Fly, Long Way Down