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Brace yourselves because it\'s nearly time: One Direction\'s fifth (and final for some time) album is nearly upon us.
Created in the wake of Zayn Malik\'s departure earlier this year,
also comes before they head in four different directions as part of an extended break from the group in March 2016.
But that doesn\'t mean the band have been lazy, and their latest collection proves they have continued to push their style in unexpected ways. Here\'s our track-by-track first listen review.
Within the first 15 seconds of One Direction\'s new album starting, \'Hey Angel\' takes you hurtling into the clouds to confront the titular winged cherub herself. It\'s an expansive, airy anthem that brings to mind partly Robbie Williams\'s \'Millennium\' (plenty of heavenly "ooohs") and partly a surging chorus U2 would\'ve snagged in their heyday. It\'s so massive they should probably book in another stadium tour off the back of this alone.
We\'ve had plenty of time to let this UK chart-topper properly sink into our heads, and those Police-style riffs don\'t get any less infectious. In terms of its placing on the album, it brings you down from the high that is \'Hey Angel\' without losing any of the euphoria. It\'s effortlessly stylish and its colossal build-up packs enough energy to power the music video\'s 1D rocket into space.
Harry Styles took on co-writing duties for this scintillating slice of \'80s pop, which serves as a delicious retort to Taylor Swift\'s \'Style\' (which was obviously about their relationship). "And if you like cameras flashing every time we out/ And if you\'re looking for someone to write your breakup songs about/ Baby, I\'m perfect/ Baby, we\'re perfect," they sing over the polished-up production, making it one of their slickest hits.
One Direction have developed a knack for an arena-ready serenade in recent years, but \'Infinity\' feels like their biggest yet. It slowly builds, with their lyrics of heartbreak boosted by echoed Coldplay-esque chord progressions, before exploding into a finale that twinkles brighter than the Orion Nebula. Not much can reach the dizzying heights of 1D\'s popularity, but this comes impressively close.
Young love is never easy, especially when it feels like the whole world has something to say about it. "The priest thinks it\'s the devil, my mum thinks it\'s the flu," the boys sing of their lovesick woes before proclaiming: "You\'re the one that I want at the end of the day." The chorus is the closest we\'ve heard 1D tread towards Beatles territory (aside from the obvious comparisons about the worldwide hysteria they cause), and Louis Tomlinson pulls off a great vocal performance.
Get the box of tissues ready, because this is potentially One Direction\'s most tender ballad ever. Yep, even more emotional than \'Little Things\'. It\'s a piano-led slow number that hears them let their guard down ("for your eyes only, I\'ll show you my heart"). It\'s no secret that the guys have been through a few ups and downs in their private relationships in recent years, and here Louis delivers the most poignant line ("I\'ve got scars even though they can\'t always be seen").
One Direction replicate the sound they achieved on last year\'s
here with its silky, \'70s-style harmonies and dreamy mid-tempo refrain. "We had it all, and we walked away," they reflect, speaking to a former flame. "We built it up so high and now I\'m falling, it\'s a long way down." It\'s the band\'s melancholic moment and it\'ll leave you wondering just
Who\'d have thought Niall Horan would be responsible for one of One Direction\'s most brilliantly bizarre tracks ever. There are barbershop quartet harmonies, gutsy grunts powerful enough to put the All Blacks\' Haka in its place, flourishes of tropical brass, and Liam doing some truly maniacal ad-libs. It doesn\'t sound like it should work on paper, but somehow it all comes together with a crazy-in-love lyric to be an album highlight.
Liam Payne is so excited about the new One Direction album that he actually leaked a little bit of \'Olivia\' last month. Its \'60s bounce is unavoidably charming, bringing together the vivacity of the Beach Boys and the suaveness of The Beatles. Amongst the luscious harmonies and jolly production is an unintentional Leona Lewis reference ("This isn\'t the stain of a red wine, I\'m bleeding love") and an intentional nod to
All aboard the 1D TARDIS because we jump ahead two decades to the \'80s for next track \'What a Feeling\'. No, it\'s not a cover of Lionel Richie, but rather owes a debt to Phil Collins. It has a slinky groove, shimmering electronics and a whimsical lilt that never feels too overblown. Again, it\'s something we\'d never really expect to hear on a One Direction album, but we should all know by now that they like to keep us on our toes.
Grab some stools, this is a classic boyband number - and one that would\'ve slotted nicely on either of One Direction\'s first two albums. "If tomorrow you won\'t be mine, won\'t you give it to me one last time," they ask, left distraught on the wrong side of a failed relationship - and the sentiment packs a harder punch over the rousing backdrop.
The production here is as simple as its concept. Light pen scribbles can be heard over the gentle guitar plucks, soothing "oohs" and pleasant vocal delivery. It\'s the album\'s quietest and sweetest moment, but in being so allows the guys\' individual tones space to breathe.
\'s finale is a big ole campfire singalong. But if you listen carefully, it\'s also a very telling swansong. "All of the rumours, all of the fights, but we always find a way to make it out alive," they sing, hinting that the relationship they\'re referring to is actually the bond they share as a band. Fans will rejoice, then, when Louis forcefully delivers the line: "This is not the end."
20 million albums, countless number ones and 325 headline shows later, One Direction have achieved what no
rounds off a phenomenal chapter in their career, bringing together the pop, rock and folky influences that helped them go from teenage upstarts to a billion dollar industry.
If it\'s their last ever album, then they go out on a high. But at the same time, if this is just a goodbye until a few years\' time, then
is a mature record that leaves them in a place they can revisit when the moment feels right. For a group limited by the perception that they are just "boyband pop", their music has become as accomplished as their shining achievements.
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