Words: Rachel Muckley
2015 – remember the year, folks. It’s the year you’ll tell your grandkids you learned that One Direction had good music. I don’t care if you’re a die-hard advocate of screamo rock, club beats or traditional tribal notes on the woodwind, you’re going to want to take note of what is about to hit the music scene.
Having released their first single Drag Me Down off their 5th studio album Made In The A.M. back in August, the band has gone on to release (and importantly, not leak) a few more new tracks upon the realms of Spotify and the result has been surprising and wonderful. While everyone expects the fans to jump on board with an underage style celebratory champagne flute in tow, no one could have foreseen the most cynical of critics in the business would give the verdict that this just may be the album of a lifetime – and not just for the band, but for you. That is, if you’re willing to take a listen.
With airs and subtle graces reminiscent of the softer tones of the later part of 20th century folk-rock music, the idea that One Direction is nothing more than a thoughtless marketing ploy with catchy yet shallow pop songs, just won’t stand up in court anymore. Traces of the lightly-touched musical styles of Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac and even a bit of a Jeff Buckley ballad style, all have a claim on this record. Personal top picks of the 17 tracks, yes you read that correctly, include Love You Goodbye, Olivia, If I Could Fly and Walking In the Wind but that’s not to say there’s a huge difference in quality between any of them.
The simple fact is, there is no bad song. Each one carries either a ‘look and you’ll find it’ message of optimism or an undramatic hold on a moment of heartbreak. Both are effectively unclichéd because they accompany an original sound behind a refined lyrical composition, a trend running all the way through the album, where the end of a sentence doesn’t always have to rhyme to work. We also greatly appreciate how no two songs cover the same story. There’s casual love and excitable love, boozy reflections and tales of individual resilience. So good riddance to the ‘you are my reason to exist’ kind of songs in the charts you’ve grown-up to resent.
Made In The A.M. is ultimately a calling que to the music industry to let go of an excessive use of synthetic pop, of repetitive lyrics and chorus’s, of just trying too hard to create something otherworldly. No, this record shows us that simple really resignates in this chaotic world we live in. Ironically, the selling point of the album is that it does not push beyond the understatement of every four minutes of melody and verse. It just sits back and lets the music speak for itself.