When the boy band grows up

One Direction’s “Made in the A.M.” reaches new depths

Maggie Curran and Ashlee Berner

As their first album since former band member Zayn Malik left the group, One Direction’s “Made in the A.M.” faced a new level of high expectations. After listening to the 17-track deluxe album, it’s clear that “Made in the A.M.” was made with a whole lot of effort. From their songwriting to the improved vocal strength from all four members, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, and Liam Payne, it seems that One Direction has finally found the sound they were born to sing.

The first track, “Hey Angel,” sets the tone for the rest of the album: the upbeat pop anthems we’ve come to expect from the British-Irish boyband. The second track, “Drag Me Down,” which was also the album’s first single released earlier this year, is no exception. However, there’s an underlying maturity in the band’s fifth album that the last four have lacked.

Lyrics such as “it’s impossible to know if after this we can still be friends/ I know you’re saying you don’t want to hurt me/ but maybe you should show a little mercy/ the way you look I know you didn’t come to apologize” from the track “Love You Goodbye” hold more meaning than those off their previous albums. While their iconic chart-topper from their first album, “What Makes You Beautiful,” is catchy, it’s lyrics lack the depth that songs like “If I Could Fly” and “Long Way Down” possess. With this lyrical evolution, not to mention the band’s use of harmonies and instrumentals, there’s a larger emphasis on all four voices working together, instead of simply singing individual verses for the majority of the songs.

In addition to their vocal success, the band’s fifth album is much more relatable to older generations. The band members are well into the young adult stage of their lives, and as a result, the love and heartbreak they express through their songs is the love and heartbreak their millennial fans are experiencing. There’s a maturity in their voices and lyrics that takes this album beyond their previous teenybop tracks.

While the album’s official release date was last Friday, leaked tracks from “Made in the A.M.” were available illegally online for a week prior. In addition, the band spontaneously released several songs before the rest of the album. Already, One Direction’s fan base has declared their favorites, with “What A Feeling,” “Olivia,” and bonus track “Temporary Fix” making the best impressions overall. “What A Feeling” and “Temporary Fix” both have heavy rock undertones, while “Olivia” serves as a noble attempt at an almost Beatles-esque declaration of love for—you guessed it—a girl named Olivia.

The track that arguably best encompasses the feel of One Direction’s fifth album is “History,” a sort of musical tribute to the journey the band has taken these past 5 years together that acknowledges their and their fans’ apprehension for the future. While the band members have expressly denied any rumors of breaking up, there is still speculation about One Direction’s career as they begin their first extended break with the release of “Made in the A.M.”

While it would be a shame for the band to split at the height of their success, “Made in the A.M.” would not be a bad note to leave on. To once again quote the lyrics from their ballad “Love You Goodbye,” “it’s inevitable everything that’s good comes to an end.” Although it’s hopefully not the last of One Direction, “Made in the A.M.” has finally brought the band to the place in the music industry they were always destined to reach.