Now that Zayn Malik had decamped, leaving behind four of them, One Direction had wisely gone on hiatus as I write this. Oh, let’s face it, when boybands go on hiatus, chances are they would get back together only a decade or two later, when they finally accept that their brilliant solo careers are never going to happen and there are bills, alimony and child support payments, and angry drug dealers to pay. While Made in the A.M. is clearly not rushed out as a farewell gift to their sobbing fans, it ends up being a swan song from one of the best tribute boybands around. Unfortunately, it’s kind of blah. These boys’ handlers bought them the best music in their first two albums – everything after those, including this one, sounds like efforts of little boys trying too hard to convince the world that they are adults now.
Perfect, a cute sequel to Taylor Swift’s passive-aggressive paean to her fake ex-boyfriend in this band – Harry Styles, I believe – is all about how Ms Swift would do all the things she shouldn’t do on their first date. Oh please, as if that darling young lady would do all those things and then not make a song about them… or did she not? Hmm, maybe Out of the Woods is about the time when they all snorted coke off a terrified terrier’s tummy before sacrificing the poor thing to Satan?
The rest of the album has the usual uptempo songs that seem to be heavily influenced by rockier bands of the last three decades, some sappy ballads (be careful of Infinity – the chorus features some off-key wailing), and the occasional “mature, sensitive song” designed to show off how much these lads have grown up. For that last one, in this album it is I Want to Write You a Song, a gentle song with folksy elements that almost – almost – make me choke up a little inside.
Anyway, this album – like the rest of these lads’ catalog – demonstrates that they are very good at sounding like the Backstreet Boys, Ed Sheeran, The Clash, whatever. In some ways, they have made their own History, and they can now take off for a well-deserved rest before they look even more like desiccated praying mantises from all that non-stop touring and what not that they had been forced to do since their The X-Factor UK stint. Now that Zayn Malik is off to live out his delusions that he’d be the next Justin Timberlake, maybe the remaining four can wisely invest their money and start eating healthy, balanced meals. Or just blow everything up their noses, whatever.
So, what’s the next boyband that will plague us all next? 5 Seconds of Summer and The Vamps aren’t happening, so I suppose we will have to turn to the ladies like Little Mix and Fifth Harmony to keep us happy.